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As someone with first-hand knowledge about the shortcomings of the educational system in her native Chile, particularly when it comes to delivering quality education to people with disabilities, Andrea Guzman aims to improve things.
That's why the 21-year-old Santiago resident is pursuing an elementary education degree, with an eye toward eventually opening a school specifically designed for kids with special needs. "I've always liked children, and in Chile the education system in general, and special education in particular, is quite poor for the most part," Andrea explained. "I feel like this can't continue, it has to improve, and want to work to help make it better. Eventually, I want to create a school where special needs children can all attend and live and be viewed as normal. That's my dream."
Andrea is herself a product of that system, but has risen above the flaws to attend a university that will afford her the best opportunity to be an effective educator. With graduation about two years on the horizon, Andrea already has first-hand classroom teaching experience, which she said is just as valuable as knowledge of subject matter, and can be quite eye opening. "There are two possibilities when you get practice along with theory," said Andrea. "It can confirm your career choice, or it can throw you completely off. For me, it's made me realize that teaching is definitely what I love."
Andrea's mobility is impaired by a form of cerebral paralysis, and in order to maximize her own abilities and potential as an educator, she needed to upgrade her wheelchair from the European, motorized folding wheelchair she had been using. Her father, Andres, explained that she required advanced seating and positioning options, as well as speed and performance, which was what led to her choice of the Q6000Z. "We did a lot of research, on the internet and elsewhere, and found that this product was by far the one that best addressed everything Andrea needed and wanted," he said. "We want to maximize her possibilities. That's our goal, and we feel extremely happy and fulfilled with this product."
"That has been our story," added Andrea's mom, Patricia. "All of us together, studying to find the best alternatives for Andrea. The best part about the Q6000Z is the flexibility." With TRU-Balance Tilt & Recline, Andrea has the positioning options she had long lacked, Patricia noted.
Andrea recently had the chance to come to the United States and visit New York City, seeing the sights in Manhattan with her parents, her service dog, Ruccia, and her Q6000Z. Andrea reported that her Z has helped her experience Manhattan to the fullest, travelling on the subway, and on city buses, and enjoying tourist destinations including the Empire State Building.
"That's the goal, to give Andrea the best opportunity to develop herself as a person," said Patricia. "We're trying to make sure she's in a position to have the most possibilities." Andrea said her parents do more than that. "You give me the drive to succeed," she said.