Stephanie Tinoco, a 22-year-old student with spina bifida (birth defect), is a busy Miami-Dade College (MDC) Homestead student and president of the MDC Homestead Journalism Club. And even though she is wheelchair bound and has endured five excruciating surgeries, she is a fighter who is ready to face the world head on.
Tinoco has held four jobs, including her current position as a sales associate at the MDC Homestead Bookstore, and dreams of becoming a teacher for children with special needs. By defying the odds as well as finishing her early childhood development courses, she is close to achieving that and more.
Being the dedicated and responsible person that she is, Tinoco rides her power wheelchair to school, so she can attend every important lecture. Her goal is to educate children with mental or physical handicaps; she believes her circumstances and experiences can inspire other young individuals with disabilities to strive for excellence.
“It seems like so many children feel that they are not heard because they don’t have people to talk to them who can relate to their condition,” Tinoco said.
Besides her involvement with the Journalism Club, Tinoco is active with the campus Dream Team. Her motive for joining was simple: to satisfy her passion for volunteering with promising agencies that make a difference in our society. She takes pleasure in knowing she has assisted a person in need and has done so with like-minded people who share similar enthusiasms. Writing has always been an outlet for her, due to sometimes not having the ability to vocalize her emotions and feelings clearly. It was also a helpful tool for improving her writing skills as a young child.
Aside from school and work, Tinoco finds herself unable to remain idle: “I dislike staying home!” She can often be found at the mall, a beach, or many social events. She takes advantage of what her community has to offer. Location is not an issue and taking part in activities with friends is a must for her.
Just this summer, she volunteered for the Shake-A-Leg Miami organization, a camp for disabled kids who can enjoy sailing and kayaking the waters off Coconut Groove. “My favorite part was seeing the smiles on the kids’ faces,” she said.
Stephanie Tinoco is an example to all that independence is a choice and allowing a label to define her entire worth is paralyzing. In honor of National Disability Awareness Month, her wish is to inspire others and to bring awareness to a condition that is sometimes overlooked. As she says, “You only live once! Therefore, I try to motivate others in the best way I can, because ‘can’t’ has never been part of my vocabulary.”
Haz clic para leer en Español: Estudiante del MDC de Homestead no deja que su discapacidad la defina