Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Aubrie Westmaas by Bridget Brown


Bridget Brown


Hello again.  I hope your summer has been a blast. I hope you are doing well and having fun.

Today I talked to one of my good friends Aubrie Westmaas, a bright young woman who gives great smiles and has had an extraordinarily life.


Aubrie is an amazing self -advocate who is successful because she always expects extraordinary things in life.  She is a big dreamer and advocate. She has a lot of spunk!


She grew up in Pittsfield Illinois and was included all the way through high school. For her transition years she went to the Illinois School for the Visually Impaired. When she graduated, she went to Helen Keller National Center for Deaf Blind Youths & Adults in Long Island New York.

She loved NEW YORK!  Aubrie loves ALL kinds of theater and her big dream in life is to be a Broadway actor, so living in NEW YORK was a dream come true for her.

She just moved into her own apartment in Quincy, Illinois and is looking forward to getting settled and meeting new people. It is in a friendly community and she likes all the neighbors she has met so far.  She hopes to develop a circle of support in Quincy and in her community.  I plan to interview her in a few months and see how things are going on her journey.


Aubrie is an incredibly successful self-advocate. She does presentations with her organization called Expect Extraordinary.  Aubrie was recognized as the 2014 Illinois Statewide Transition Conference Student of the Year. In 2019, Aubrie was a top finalist in the NPR Student Podcast Challenge. Her podcast is featured in an episode of NPR's Code Switch. 


Aubrie has been an advocate as long as she can remember. After learning about Martin Luther King, Jr. in third grade, Aubrie said, "Martin Luther King, Jr. said we should treat everybody equal. But we're not doing a good job of that   She once visited the state capitol and sat at the governor's desk. She's attended statewide conferences, rallies at the capitol, and met Temple Grandin. In June 2019, Aubrie graduated from Illinois Partners in Policymaking.  

 When I asked Aubrie to share some thoughts about what makes her successful, this is what she said:


·         Find good and supportive people in your life. You might have staff that helps you but also you need to find friends and family who are in your circle of friends.


·         Be true to who you are so people know the real you.  You need to be who you are so people can help you create a life that works for you!


·         Accept your disability as a whole and accept who you are at the moment.


·         Ask for help when you need it. Have a team to help you problem solve. It is difficult to know when to keep trying and when you need to speak up and ask for help.

·         Always be dreaming about your life in some way. Aubrie knew she loved theater and wanted to be an actor on Broadway and she needs people in her life who will honor her dream.


·         Keep going and never give up!!!


·         Surround yourself with people who “get you” and make them a part of your life.


·         Don’t be afraid to try new things.


·         Tell someone if you are afraid so they can help you work through the issues. Don’t give up because of fear.  In her family their motto is “WE DO HARD THINGS”.


·         Dream big! One of Aubrie’s superpowers is that she is a spectacular dreamer. She would like to bottle dreaming so she can give it to other people.   


·         If you get discouraged or disappointed, just accept it as part of life.  If she tries something and it doesn’t work out it can be devastating but she just realizes that she did all she could and then the decision isn’t about her any more – it is about others.  She lets it go and it helps her deal with disappointment.


Aubrie says,

"People with disabilities should be treated ordinary. But we do have some extras."


Our ExtraOrdinary dream is a world where...


People with disabilities take charge of their own lives.


People with disabilities live, learn, work, play, and worship in ordinary places with everyone else.


Old ideas and attitudes are replaced with open minds and welcoming hearts.


You can get in touch with Aubrie through her email



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