As an advocate for the disability community, Lindsey Muszkiewicz — recently honored by the UW College of Arts & Sciences as its Dean's Medalist in the Humanities — knows the power of stories and the importance of representation in the media.
“As a queer disabled woman, I grew up never seeing anyone who looked like me in pop culture, and the absence of diverse characters has continued into adulthood,” says Muszkiewicz (BA, Comparative History of Ideas; Disability Studies, 2021). “I’ve spent my time preparing for a career in telling stories like mine that are still untold.”
This focus was evident in Muszkiewicz’s ambitious senior thesis in the Department of Comparative History of Ideas (CHID), which included a research paper on the politics and implications of representations of disability in the media, plus a novel featuring a queer disabled forensic detective who becomes a lead investigator in a criminal case.
“Lindsey is extraordinary,” says María Elena García, CHID associate professor and Muszkiewicz’s thesis adviser. “She is a sophisticated thinker, a talented writer and storyteller, and among the most hard-working students with whom I have worked at the UW.”
Lindsey...has found a way to use the tools of the humanities and social sciences to reveal the affective and political power of Disability Studies and advocacy.
Beyond academics, Muszkiewicz has worked for years at the UW’s DO-IT Center, which empowers people with disabilities through technology and education. She also interned at the UW’s Student Disability Commission, a student-run organization that advocates for students with disabilities. In 2020, Muszkiewicz interned at The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, where she pitched disabled, queer, and BIPOC talent as potential guests.
“Lindsey embodies the best of a liberal arts education,” says García, “and has found a way to use the tools of the humanities and social sciences to reveal the affective and political power of Disability Studies and advocacy.”