Inspiring Women of the Capital Region: Shameka Andrews

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Shameka Andrews was told students in wheelchairs would have to sit in the audience to collect their diplomas. She made sure a ramp would allow her and others to make it to the stage and she’s been an advocate ever since.

Doctors said she’d never lead a normal life.

“They said they I wouldn’t live past five. They said if I did live past 5, I wouldn’t walk, I wouldn’t talk,” Andrews said.

They were right about one thing; Shemeka Andrew’s life has been anything but normal.

“People outside of the disability world are very quick to judge about what you can and cannot do,” Andrews said.

On these two wheels, Shameeka has done a lot, advocating for herself and others to make every facet of life accessible to all.

“You have the right to speak up for what it is that you need and want that’s your right as a human being,” Andrews said.

But, she wasn’t always so sure of herself, born with spina bifida. Shameeka likens herself to a butterfly, so much so, she wrote a book about leaving her cocoon. And now I am ready to fly and spread my wings,” Andrews said.

Shameka was soaring when she won the title of Miss Wheelchair New York in 2006 and she’s been involved in the empowering organization ever since.

“The journey is just beginning in a lot of ways for me, but I am proud of everything that I have been able to accomplish,” Andrews said.

Those accomplishments do not go unnoticed.

“Just seeing her on a day to day basis inspires me to be a better person,” Patricia Harris says.

Patricia harris has been with the Center for Disablity Services for 20 years, helping people with disabilities live independently.

“They have a right to be just about everywhere where we are. There should be no limits, but they face that every day,” Harris said.

You wouldn’t know it, by looking at the accolades and published works that fill Shameka’s room.

“I think others see a disability, Shameka does not. She absolutely does not on any given day,” Harris said.

No, Shameka sees possibilities, including a future in politics and believes the unique path she’ll take to get there was designed by a higher power.

“I am here for a purpose and god gave me these wheels for his mission on earth and I try to live that mission every day,” Andrews said.

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