Guide Dogs for the Blind (GDB) graduate Aria Mia Loberti never let others stand in the way of pursuing her dreams. Despite being repeatedly denied access to simple academic classes like mathematics in grade school and having to stay indoors during recess in third grade because she was blind, she made her mind up at a tender age that she would get a Ph.D and pursue an academic life.
Aria’s thirst for knowledge developed at an early age and so did her desire to advocate for people who are blind or visually impaired. She was only 8 when she started speaking up about disability rights. Aria persevered to become an honors student at University of Rhode Island, where she triple-majored in philosophy, communications studies, and political science, with minors in ancient Greek and rhetoric.
You’d think someone with such a full plate academically might take a breather from activism while in school, but that wasn’t the case with Aria. In fact, her ongoing activism in school led her to the United Nations as a delegate, and her story of resilience made her a popular speaker at TEDx.
Aria left earlier this month for the U.K. to pursue the pinnacle of her lifelong dream – getting a Ph.D. And she won’t be enrolling in just any old graduate program. Aria was accepted as part of the prestigious Fulbright Program.
Aria credits much of her success to her guide dog, Ingrid. Being paired with Ingrid has given Aria the confidence and independence to pursue her dreams, including heading to the U.K. She even mentioned Ingrid in the first sentence of her Fulbright application
“Guide Dogs for the Blind took great pains to pair me with a dog that matched my busy lifestyle and personality,” said Aria. “I would never have applied to the Fulbright Program if it weren’t for the confidence and security that Ingrid gave me, and instead of being anxious about moving, I was just very excited about it.”
Ingrid has taken 46 flights with Aria and has helped her navigate complex travel situations all over the world. While at University of Rhode Island, Aria
says she met all of her best friends because of Ingrid, who enabled her to attend more social gatherings and teach six yoga classes a week. Ingrid was something of a star/mascot on campus and was even featured in ads for the university.
Aria expects that Ingrid will be a hit in the U.K. as well. And Ingrid will be even more important to Aria’s move because of the COVID-19 Pandemic. She reports that neither of her parents were able to fly with her to start school because both are in a very high-risk group. So, Ingrid’s role as guide dog and family member becomes even more important. Best of luck to Aria and Ingrid on their next adventure.
To learn more about GDB's programs for the blind and visually impaired, visit the GDB Programs page today.