Participant Info

Image Description
A content white woman with a small smile, a gold nose ring, brown frizzy hair, blue glasses, and a rainbow striped shirt leaning her face on her fist
United States
Website and social media;; instagram: see.brightness
Dr. Rachel Kallem Whitman graduated from Duquesne University with her doctorate in educational leadership and a focus in disability studies. Her dissertation, “Perceptions of Disability, Identity, Agency, Goal Attainment, and Young Adult Disability Programs” explored the relationship between disability, identity, narrative, and agency. Rachel was the recipient of Duquesne University’s School of Education’s Distinguished Dissertation Award for 2018. Rachel earned a B.A. in psychology from the University of Virginia and her M.S.Ed. from Duquesne University. Rachel's past work experiences include: serving as the Youth Leadership Coordinator at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh where she supported young adults with disabilities enrolled in a leadership development program, working as a special education advocate in the Pittsburgh public school system, and as a college-level disability services coordinator providing academic accommodations for students with disabilities. Currently Rachel is an adjunct professor at Duquesne University in the Psychology Department where she teaches courses in disability studies. Rachel is a proud member of the disability community. In addition to being a self-advocate, Rachel is an experienced public speaker who has presented at schools, colleges, foundations, and nonprofits about challenging ableism (disability oppression), framing disability rights as human rights, and the moral imperative of universal design (intentional inclusion of diverse brains and bodies). Rachel is also an avid writer who has published articles, short stories, poems, essays, and op-eds about the societal barriers and biases that marginalize the experience of living with a disability. Rachel is also the author of “Instability in Six Colors” a bipolar memoir that chronicles her experience with mental illness while combating stigma and sanism. Rachel’s work has garnered acclaim locally in Pittsburgh, across the country, and internationally. Throughout her career as a practitioner and educational leader, Rachel has effectively worked with and meaningfully engaged individuals with disabilities through authentic listening, prioritizing respectful and productive dialogue, cultivating opportunities for collaboration, providing programming that is relevant and informed by stakeholders, and by championing an intersectional approach in improvement science.
Media, Pop Culture, Disability Culture, Accessibility, Disability Rights, Education, Americans with Disabilities Act, Disability, Sexuality
Personal Essays, Opinion Editorial, Essays, Radio Appearances, Television Appearances, Podcast Appearances
Additional Credentials
My debut novel, “Instability in Six Colors” paints a vivid picture of what it is like living with chronic mental illness, trauma, and a complicated relationship with sanity, safety, and suicide. Through raw, honest, emotional, and poetic storytelling I seek to narrate my own journey, navigate my own recovery, and kindle hope for those impacted by mental illness. My mission is to create an inclusive community that empowers individuals to look beyond their illness to find themselves. You can buy this bipolar narrative through One Idea Press, a woman-owned independent press based out of Pittsburgh, PA, as a paper copy or ebook. For more of my work please be sure to check out my website: