Seventh grader Fatima Olivas has high hopes for the future — a house of her own and a career as a veterinarian. For now she’s getting practice working with animals by taking care of her 3-year-old dog Misuri, and making sure she never misses a day of class. “Without this wheelchair, there’s no way Fatima would be in school right now,” her mother, Rosaria, says.
Sometimes Fatima’s classmates make assumptions about her disability and what she can do — like in PE class when a girl told her she couldn’t participate in a race. “But I could, with my wheelchair!” she says. “She thought I couldn’t do any exercises but I could, it just might look different from everyone else.”
Spanish class is another story, though. “There are some girls who don’t write anything in class, who don’t study — but I do! So I do better on the tests than they do. It bothers them that I do so well. They want me to help them cheat or give them the answers, but I say, ‘No, you have to study hard like me, sorry!’ I have too much dignity for that.”