CUNY’s disability crusader
- Last Updated: 4:11 AM, August 20, 2012
- Posted: 1:57 AM, August 20, 2012
Being in a wheelchair didn’t matter when he coached kids in basketball at his Queens church, says Christopher Rosa, a university official and advocate who is dedicated to leveling the playing field for the disabled.
“All that people with disabilities ask for is an equal chance to succeed or fail on their merits alone,’’ said Dr. Rosa, CUNY’s assistant dean for student affairs who also teaches courses in disability studies.
Rosa, 45, a sociologist who has muscular dystrophy and has used a wheelchair since he was 12, says his goal is to make sure “our students with disabilities can rise to the level of their ability.’’
He is a “passionate advocate” for students on the 24 campuses said CUNY Senior Vice Chancellor Jay Hershenson, who nominated Rosa for a New York Post Liberty Medal in the Educator category.
There are 9,000 disabled students at CUNY, and Rosa spearheaded a project called CUNY LEADS (Linking Employment, Academics and Disability Services), a comprehensive career-readiness program for students with disabilities.
He proudly notes that 70 percent in the program “are employed in the first year’’ after graduation.
Rosa, who is on the board of the Muscular Dystrophy Association, says that 22 years ago, when he coached fourth- to seventh-graders in basketball at his church in Flushing, “We won more than we lost, and we learned a lot from each other along the way.’’