Bella Brinkman

Name & Pronouns: Bella Brinkman (she/her)

Year: Junior

Major(s)/Minor(s): Sociology Major/ Global Health Minor

A little about myself:

My name is Bella Brinkman. I am from Wayzata, Minnesota. I am a Junior Sociology major with a minor in Global Health on a Pre-Public Health track. I am an RA in the first-year dorms, involved in campus ministry, and on the core team for Magis Ministries. Outside of school I love getting outside and going on walks/hikes and bike rides. In the summer, you can find me on the lake wake surfing and in the winter, you can find me on the slopes skiing. I am an avid coffee drinker with a caffeine addiction so I can be found at the Local Blend or the Perk quite frequently. Besides that, I am passionate about the enneagram, podcasts, and baking gluten-free desserts.

How my disability has impacted my life:

I have a stutter, which is a speech impediment. For me, my stutter is randomized so I don't know when it will come on or come off. Sometimes I am completely fluent, other times I am not. I am a rare case in which I did not start developing my stutter until I was around 10-12 years old. Because of that I have known what it is like to be completely fluent. It is kind of something now, that I have grown to know about myself. I am mostly conversationally fluent, but struggle when I am doing more stressful or specific tasks. In a very analytical lens, I think about my words to such a level that it's as if my mind works as a typewriter. I am constantly switching and changing words out. I am constantly readjusting, and moving things around. For me, speaking isn't something I just do. It is something I constantly think about and analyze.

How my disability functions as a strength in my life:

I am a lot more willing to listen to people than people in the general population. I understand the struggle of when you are trying to speak and you can't convey your thoughts how you want to. When I see someone who is struggling to convey what they are trying to say, I have the ability to listen, be empathetic, and compassionate. I  encourage people to say what they want to say. I value speech, and want to empower people to get their thoughts out.

Barriers to accessibility I would like to bring to light:

People  interrupt me and try to finish my sentences for me. I think they are trying to be helpful, or they do so with the fact that they feel so uncomfortable with my stuttering. For me, that takes away my autonomy and being able to speak for myself. When it comes to me and accessibilities, it is less about policy and physical structures, but more about having people who are understanding and compassionate. Having professors, faculty, and peers who are understanding and compassionate is extremely important.

“The greatest form of protest that we have against ableism is having those with disabilities being the voice.”