Samantha Lobato, missing her right arm past the elbow and half the fingers on her left hand, is guided by the words of a Denver teacher: “Disability is physical. Ability is in the mind.” She is a Denver Public Schools graduate and has served as a youth leader for Project VOYCE (Voices of Youth Changing Education). In this role, she trains fellow students to become leaders in their school community and fosters open communication between students and school staff. Samantha also volunteers her time to tutor peers and younger students and is the first in her family to graduate high school and attend college.
What does it mean to say someone has a “voice?” At seventeen years old, Samantha Lobato has found her voice in advocating for the voice of others, especially as it relates to the classroom. She understands that kids don’t always have the opportunity to stand up for themselves, so she has created ways for them to do so. In this moving talk, Samantha relates her personal story of being empowered by a single teacher to her mission of lifting up those who haven’t had the opportunity, or the person, to do so.