Celebrating the Life of Amber Buckley-Shaklee
AAPD joins the disability rights community in celebrating the life of Amber Buckley-Shaklee, a dedicated advocate and former AAPD Summer Intern. Amber was a part of the AAPD Washington, DC Summer Internship Program in 2011.
Amber earned her bachelor’s degree in sociology at the University of Illinois, where she was a doctoral student and teaching assistant in the Sociology Department at the time of her passing. Amber is well-regarded for her advocacy work, serving as the co-chair of Illinois Imagines Statewide Policy Committee and volunteer for Illinois’ Sexual Assault Counseling and Information Service.
In addition to completing the AAPD Summer Internship Program with the National Council on Disability in 2011, Amber also interned for the Office of Civil Rights in the U.S. State Department in Washington, DC and with the Veterans Administration Hospital in Madison, WI.
“I was able to meet Amber summer 2011 through the American Association of People with Disabilities internship program. During that summer, Amber and I laughed, learned, and advocated for the things that meant most to us. She was also the first person to introduce me to the 3E Love’s Wheelchair Heart, which is a symbol I still hold on my Facebook page today. I feel saddened by her loss, but I will always hold the memories of her caring and open spirit with me,” said Keri Gray, a friend and fellow intern in the 2011 AAPD Summer Internship Program.
“I remember Amber both from her time in the AAPD internship and as a fellow Illinois alum. At Illinois, she was a mentor to many of the younger students with disabilities, helping them navigate the campus and tricky new challenges like hiring PCAs,” said Dana Fink, a friend and a former AAPD staff member who worked with Amber.
“She was laid back about so many things except her love of teaching, intersectional disability rights, and Illinois basketball.”
Amber’s passion for experiencing new cultures, building communities globally, and her commitment to serving others led her to participate in the Mobility International USA U.S./Costa Rica cross-cultural program for young leaders with disabilities in 2008.
Ashley Holben of Mobility International USA said of Amber, “she had impressed us with her commitment to making a positive change in others’ lives, having written in her application:
“Since I was young, my parents stressed the importance of helping others, showing compassion, and empathizing with those less fortunate than myself….I feel it is my responsibility, since I have benefitted from the help of others, to also go out and help those who have fewer opportunities than I…. [by volunteering abroad] I will get a better understanding of international issues and have the opportunity to work hands-on with people from other countries.”
“She told me that in parts of the world where volunteers often go, people with disabilities don’t necessarily have the same opportunities as they do [in the U.S.]; therefore, if people with disabilities volunteer abroad, they can show others how people with disabilities can be successful if given opportunities and to show what’s possible. Amber also expressed her interest in figuring out ways to solve social problems as having motivated her to pursue doctorate studies in Sociology,” said Holben.
Amber was also selected to complete a Harris Wofford Global Service Fellowship, where she traveled to Lima, Peru to participate in an international volunteer service with Cross-Cultural Solutions (CCS).
“I hope that other young people with disabilities will follow the example that Amber set and pursue opportunities to go out into the world not only to experience it, but to understand, appreciate, and give back to it,” said Holben.