#PrepareAtPeace: WPU Alumna Deja Barber Crowned Ms. Wheelchair North Carolina
It is safe to say that WPU Alumna Deja Barber is North Carolina royalty – she even has the crown to prove it. As the 2017 winner of the Ms. Wheelchair North Carolina Pageant, Barber has been busy traveling and speaking at various events across the state. She speaks primarily about living a fulfilled life with a disability and her topics can range from self-advocacy to employment, but each subject has the same underlying theme of empowerment.
Since winning her North Carolina title, Barber wears her crown with pride and enjoys the adventure of getting to share her message with people across her home state – something she’s thought about doing for years.
“I got to meet 24 other strong women in wheelchairs that are doing great things all over our country for those in the disability community.”
Deja first heard about the Miss Wheelchair North Carolina program when she was 14 years old, but at the time she was too young to compete. After waiting seven long years to be eligible, Barber entered the pageant soon after graduating from WPU in 2016. She has since gone on to compete on the national stage in the Miss Wheelchair America Pageant, an experience that she looks back on proudly.
“I got to meet 24 other strong women in wheelchairs that are doing great things all over our country for those in the disability community,” Barber said. “If I had won the [national] title my main focus would have been to understand the needs of our country when it comes to being disabled and to help in the best way I can.”
Barber is also a strong believer in the importance of secondary education. She received her degree in Education and her minor in Psychology from WPU and she encourages members of the disabled community to pursue degrees whenever she speaks.
“Peace gave me the skills to be confident in myself and push me to speak out on the things that make me different,” Barber said.
She carries what she learned at Peace so she can go out into the world and speak about things that need to change, especially for those with disabilities.
“I believe the support I gained pushed me to want to speak out on different things that needed to change,” Barber said. “That is the main thing I do as my duty for Ms. Wheelchair North Carolina.”
“She brings such positive energy to everyone she meets and I know she’ll continue to represent North Carolina and WPU well.”
Barber looks back at her time at Peace happily and says that she misses the close-knit connections she made as a student, where the campus became like a second home. This explains why she can almost always be found at WPU Alumni events supporting her Alma Mater, or on campus visiting with faculty and staff like the Wellness Center Director, Nicole Davis.
“There’s no one more suited for the title of Miss Wheelchair NC than Deja,” Davis said. “She brings such positive energy to everyone she meets and I know she’ll continue to represent North Carolina and WPU well. Everyone at Peace is so proud of Deja and all of her hard work.”
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