Jess Finkel
Age 25, Osteogenesis Imperfecta
Photographed by Larry Roffey


After a mysterious collar bone fracture when I was 9 months old, I was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder, osteogenesis imperfecta. From a young age I was taught to always believe in myself, advocate for what I know is right, and to not let others tell me any differently.

Graduating with my B.S. in Psychology from Xavier University in Cincinnati, I moved to the DC-metropolitan area to pursue a career in nonprofit work, hoping to focus my work on disability. Immediately coming to the area, I caught the policy-bug and enrolled at the University of Maryland for my Master’s in Public Policy. This program has not only allowed me to delve into the policy arena but look deeper into my key interests of disability policy and health disparities within the community.

While always having a strong sense of my identity, my time at Xavier and now in DC has allowed me to explore and evolve my identity even more. My dedication to exercise, specifically to yoga, has allowed me to better understand my body and strengthen how I view myself as a woman with a disability.

I am currently finishing up my Master’s program, working at the Association of University Centers on Disabilities as the program assistant, and have a fellowship at Kaiser Permanente with their Community Benefit Department. I am also getting married next year. All of my experiences and my disability have helped shape who I am today and my persistent, caring, and driven attitude. My disability is not an obstacle, but instead is a part of my beauty and strength.