GS student receives award for disability advocacy

Morgan Bridges, Print Managing Editor

Jill King, a student at Georgia Southern, received the 2022 National Alliance on Mental Illness Georgia Young Leader Award for her work in disability advocacy less than two years after her original diagnosis.

What’s new: King also received the national Rookie of the Year Award from The Social Network.

  • “I have been shocked and humbled in receiving both awards,” said King. “I didn’t expect to be a leader or for SDAG (Students with Disabilities Advocacy Group) and my advocacy to be received so well.”
  • “I am so honored to be being highlighted like I have been, and I think it is empowering me to keep moving in this direction,” said King. “I am at GSU pursuing a Psychology degree and have intentions to continue on in my education and look forward to pairing psychology and advocacy as I move forward.”

Why it matters: King received her diagnoses over the span of the past two years, diagnosed with Fibromyalgia in August 2020 and blindness in February of this year.

  • “My personal story with disability is fairly recent,” said King. “I started experiencing chronic pain and essentially became disabled over the course of a summer due to my condition. I started seeking out others like me and was lucky enough to find my SDAG co founders.” 

King and co founders, Madeline Ryan Smith and Brianne Dollar, formed SDAG when they realized there wasn’t much social support available among disabled students.

  • “As we bonded, we spoke about our experiences with disability at GS and in this rural area,” said King. “In speaking on our shared experiences with ableism and access, we realized there needed to be something both by and for disabled students.”
  • “We saw the need, and we decided we would be the one’s to fill it,” said King. “SDAG has been a way for me to take on my disability with pride and help others do the same.”