Few Princeton students have had as big an impact on the campus – or on CJL — over the past few years as Naomi Hess, ’22. An advocate for the disabled community, Naomi’s efforts were recently highlighted by Princeton Alumni Weekly. As the PAW noted, the Maryland native and SPIA student “is soft-spoken, but since arriving at Princeton, she has made herself heard.”
…On a campus with few students who use a wheelchair, she serves as an unofficial disability ambassador to the administration. Her advocacy has led to changes big and small on campus. Students, administrators, and others now find themselves eyeing a staircase or a blocked hallway with a new perspective.
Because of Naomi’s advocacy, many buildings have finally become more accessible. Nassau Hall has an elevator for the first time in its 266-year history. And our own CJL now has automatic door buttons.
Naomi has also raised awareness at CJL about the intersection between Judaism and students with disabilities and drawn praise from Hillel International. She created our annual Disability Shabbat during Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month each February. She helped bring speakers such as Judy Heumann, the internationally renowned activist who is considered the mother of disability rights, and Chella Man, who discussed his experiences as a trans, deaf, Jewish, and Chinese-American man.
Here’s what Naomi told the PAW about her work in raising awareness and fighting for change: “It’s what I’ve had to do my whole life. The world isn’t exactly set up for disabled people.”
As Naomi prepares to graduate this spring, CJL thanks and honors her for the lasting legacy she will leave for Princeton.