Trinity Alumna Inspires with Story

The Column

Trinity Alumna Inspires Second Graders with Captivating Story of Courage and Change

This spring, Trinity alumna Emma Friesen returned to school to share with our second graders a remarkable story of courage and perseverance.

Emma read a book to them entitled All the Way to the Top by Annette Bay Pimentel, which recounts the inspiring true story of Jennifer Keelan-Chaffins, an activist who played a pivotal role in the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

At just eight years old, Jennifer embarked on a life-changing mission that would leave an indelible mark on history. The story begins as Jennifer, who uses a wheelchair due to her cerebral palsy, participates in an act of protest known as the "Capitol Crawl."

In this powerful demonstration, disability rights advocates courageously crawled up the steps of the United States Capitol in Washington, DC. 

Through the words of the book, our second graders were transported into the heart of this monumental event. They witnessed Jennifer's unwavering determination and saw how her tenacity and the support of fellow advocates resonated with Congress, compelling them to pass the Americans with Disabilities Act later that year.

Emma is a recent graduate of Duke University, where she majored in public policy and minored in education. She now works in the Office of the Governor with the North Carolina Business Committee for Education, assisting in initiatives related to disability inclusion and advocacy. This summer, Emma will be leading a disability rights history group at Reality Ministries, a community that she first participated in during the Servant Leadership class she took in ninth grade at Trinity. 

I am thankful that I got to talk with the students and staff about disability and accessibility”

remarked Emma. It was an extra special moment for her, as our Lower School library, where she read to the students, was once her third-grade classroom. One never knows when things will come full circle. It’s exciting to think about the potential for our second-grade students to look back on this day as an inspirational moment in discovering their God-given calling.