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Angel Love Miles, doctoral candidate in the Department of Women’s studies, was awarded the 2016 University of Maryland (UMD) Graduate Student Distinguished Service Award and the 2016  Ethnic Minority Achievement Graduate Student Award in recognition of her advocacy on behalf of disability rights and her efforts to create campus-wide awareness about the intersectionality of disability, race, class and gender.

Miles is considered a pivotal figure in the disability rights movement in Washington, D.C. She is a member of Disability, Rights, Education, Activism and Mentoring (DREAM), a national organization made for and administered by students with disabilities. Miles serves as the co-coordinator of their e-mentoring program.

Since 2012, Miles has also served as a member of the National Youth Transitions Center and the National Veterans Center Program Advisory Committee.

At UMD, Miles helped create awareness about ableism, which is a system of discrimination against people with physical and mental disabilities. In collaboration with the university’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Miles helped develop the “Rise Above Ableism” campaign by guiding discussions on disability and organizing events about improving transportation services for disabled students and faculty members.

“Woman and minorities have higher rates of disability and they also tend to benefit less from disability policy,” she said. “I’m interested in the disparities within the disabled population.”

Miles’ scholarship combines the issues of disability, gender and race, focusing on feminism. Her doctoral research uses critical theory to examine barriers and facilitators to home ownership, focusing on the intersections of race, class, gender and disability and how these contribute to African American women’s experiences with housing and home ownership. To conduct this research, she gave out questionnaires to 32 African American women with disabilities and interviewed 30 of them.

Through her scholarship, Miles has advised experts on diversity and inclusion at UMD, helping them unpack issues of gender, race and disability. Although Miles commends the university’s increased accessibility for disabled students, she urges the university to expand opportunities for students with mental disabilities and to reevaluate financial aid policies for disabled students, who often incur more medical and transportation costs.

“Angel has gently, but actively questioned the diversity and inclusion work at the university, pushing to understand how perspectives on disability are getting in our way of equity and access for first generation students, students of color and especially student with disability, who until relatively recently have not been as prevalent in our graduate schools,” said Alex Chen, UMD graduate school’s associate dean for academic standards and policies in his speech at the

After finalizing her dissertation this summer, Miles will be attending the University of Illinois-Chicago on a post-doc fellowship that will enable her to continue her research in the university’s Department of Human Disability and Development.