Career Development

Senior psychology major turns passion for disability advocacy into a career

Psychology student Ella Newbern ’24 has dedicated much of her time at Oglethorpe to advocating for disabled and neurodivergent Petrels by serving as the President of Disabled, Neurodivergent Students of Oglethorpe (DNSO).Jacob's Ladder logo-- a navy blue background with a drawing of a red ladder pointed up to the sun.

Set to graduate in May, Newbern has found a way to continue that passion for disability advocacy after Oglethorpe as the Neurodevelopmental Provider at┬áJacob’s Ladder.

A private school and therapeutic center, Jacob’s Ladder emphasizes individualized plans for clients that create long-lasting positive change in emotional-behavioral-relational health. In this new role, Newbern coaches clients of all ages with various disabilities and implements a personalized schedule of therapeutic interventions to promote emotional regulation. She walks clients through daily living activities and engages them with their environment, peers, and themselves.

“Jacob’s Ladder is truly a unique organization in that the care model is centered around the client’s need for acceptance, love, and regulation before and even above demanding anything of them,” says Newbern.

“I have loved seeing such a caring and holistic approach to challenges.”

DNSO, a student organization that Newbern co-founded, focuses on educating, advocating, and creating a community for disabled and neurodivergent students at Oglethorpe — a perfect foundation for the first step in her new career.

Headshot of Ella Newbern

Ella Newbern ’24

Newbern highlights her student involvement and leadership in DNSO as her source of growth and preparedness to take on challenges.

“People often think that leaders are something that you have to be born naturally good at, but I have seen that you can be just as successful when you push yourself to grow into the role,” says Newbern.

Newbern wasn’t diagnosed with autism until after high school and, at the time, felt she didn’t have enough resources or support. She has since then found an accepting and supportive community in the world of disability that encouraged her to challenge herself and be more independent.

“Because of this, disability advocacy is a big passion of mine as I strive to give back to my community and help make sure others don’t feel as alone as I did once.”

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