Erika McLeish
Age 43, Visually Impaired
Photographed by Soula Pekaros


I was born legally blind with retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.  I did not use a white cane growing up and during my teen years, I was involved in numerous extracurricular activities such as karate, horseback riding and marching band. After graduating from college, I enrolled in Mars Hill University and majored in Sociology/Criminal Justice. I had a reader, books on tape and closed-circuit TV to make print larger as my accommodations.  All through college, I continued to live life to the fullest.

During my senior year at Mars Hill, I journeyed to Washington DC to do an internship with Spanish Educational Development Center in Adams Morgan for college. I worked with bilingual two and three year olds. After completing the internship, I decided to stay. Shortly thereafter, I met my wonderful husband. I now have three boys, ages 9, 11, and 12.

I am honored to be a part of Bold Beauty Project because it embodies my own core values of power, independence and self-motivation for women with disabilities. As I have said, I stay active and never stop learning – I enjoy going to the park, listening to music, and watching movies. I feel very blessed to have a strong support system with my friends, family, and most important of all God. Throughout my childhood and adulthood, I have lived my life overcoming whatever obstacles have come my way.

Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.