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Lauren Jeanne Miller is a senior at Evanston Township High School. For her Senior Studies project she will interview people in Evanston. Senior Studies is a class that combines English, history, and community service. People with “exceptionalities” are people with disabilities who persevere in what they love. Through this project, Lauren hopes to compare and contrast people’s stories and to empower the people who have not had relationships with people with exceptionalities, showing why giving support to people with exceptionalities is important to society.

I was very excited for the interview with Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl. This project has led me to do many amazing things. Getting to interview Mayor Tisdahl seems incredible to me.  This is something I’m proud of.

Mayor Tisdahl said that she grew up in Lake Forest. She then described her connection to disabilities. “My son-in-law, Pat Hughes, has a company that works to make products that make people’s lives with disabilities easier. For example, he has a bell so that when you’re driving a car, if you’re in a wheelchair and you need gas you ring the bell and someone comes out and pumps the gas for you because you can’t reach the handle. He has a lot of friends with disabilities.

“And I know people from Over The Rainbow. It’s near the Ecology Center and it’s a place where people with severe physical handicaps live, and the rooms are constructed so that they can handle daily life there. They drive in wheelchairs all over. So when you pass there you have to be careful because there are wheelchairs on the streets.”

Mayor Tisdahl thought about the word disabilities and how it has impacted her. “I guess the word implies that there are things people can’t do and that’s true about all of us. I can’t do blogs and you can. There is stuff I can do that you can’t do. Doesn’t mean you couldn’t learn but we all have abilities and disabilities.”

Mayor Tisdahl thought about what quote she lives by. “I don’t know if I live by a quote.” She then expressed if she likes the word disabilities and how it makes her feel.  “I guess when I think about the word I think about my friend’s son. He does the Bowl-a-Thon every year for babies with Down Syndrome. So every year I get a request to sponsor them and every year I get a thank you note from him. Every year there’s a picture of him at the Bowl-a-Thon with his arms raised proud that he did it and what he scored. So the word makes me think of him.”

Having this experience was amazing. It was quick and simple. It was also nice to know that Pat Hughes has a close relationship with Mayor Tisdahl. I just had a lot of fun and it was a huge compliment when she said I was an easy reporter because I never thought of myself that way. I’ve only thought that I’m an inspiration. So that was nice to know.