Chamomile Harrison, formerly known as John Harrison, is a 2019 Council scholarship recipient. The junior at UW-Whitewater is studying creative writing and psychology with a minor in social work, and has a career goal to work in advocacy. She sat down with Katherine Corbett, Council writer, to discuss what advocacy means to her, how she plans to use her skills to help others, and fun hobbies.
Katherine Corbett: Tell me about the first time you knew you wanted to be an advocate. What sparked your curiosity?
Chamomile Harrison: When I first went blind, my mother told me I would be an advocate. As I was losing my vision, the experience was overwhelming. I had a great support system through my family, through my teachers, and through my Teachers of the Blind and Visually Impaired. That made me realize that I was lucky; that there were people out there who did not have support. I want to be someone who helps people who do not have those supports and to be one of those supports for other people in the future. I want to go into a field where I am helping people and making a difference and making the world a better place.
Katherine: Advocacy seemed to be a theme in your application and throughout your life. What does that mean to you?
Cam: For me, advocacy is a way of supporting people and helping them in any way you can. Often times, you help them navigate all the systems in place and work to change those systems to make them more friendly and more uplifting. Advocacy is a way of encouraging and helping people. I love writing essays and positive notes about disability and other issues. Through my writing, I seek to show people that we are more than just our disabilities. Just because we have a disability does not mean that it defines us.
Katherine: What kinds of activities do you like to do in your spare time?
Cam: I enjoy writing, reading, and hanging out with my friends. I play Dungeons and Dragons with them a lot. I also have a forge in my backyard at home. In the summer, I enjoy blacksmithing with my dad.
Katherine: How have you adapted your hobbies to accommodate your visual impairment?
Cam: I have found I do not need any outright adaptations for the forge. I am able to go at my own pace and when I put things down, I know they will not be moved when I need to pick them up again. I figure things out as they come along. I use tongs and a hammer that are long enough so that I am about a foot away from anything that would burn me. So far, I have made a triangle [musical instrument] and hooks for hanging things on walls.
Katherine: What are three words friends or family members would use to describe you?
Cam: They would say resilient, caring, and goofy.