"Rachel has always been very resilient," he says. "[She] is a serious artist who has gotten where she is by virtue of her innate talents, unique vision, unimaginable hard work and perseverance, aided by a great team of allies who've helped her prevail over a lot of systemic obstacles and societal biases."
Those five years of "hard work and perseverance" finally came to a culmination on May 15 when Rachel earned her BFA.
In his tweet on that memorable day, Jay — who describes himself in his Twitter bio as a "fierce father" and "disability/inclusion zealot" — wrote that he was "officially the proudest father on the planet."
His message was met with praise by thousands of users, who congratulated him and Rachel and shared similar anecdotes about their loved ones with Down syndrome.
Those positive responses are ultimately what Jay and Laura hoped people would take away from their daughter's story, which the father says has taught him to "never be limited by anybody else’s expectations and assumptions."
"We’d like everybody who has Down syndrome, or who has a child or a grandchild or a friend with Down syndrome, or who’s gotten a prenatal diagnosis, to understand what is possible," he explains. "To understand that folks with Down syndrome are full-fledged people with an incredible range of abilities and potential — interesting, smart, creative, talented, funny, complex, surprising, valuable people."
"That, given the opportunities, they can and will accomplish extraordinary things," Jay adds. "That they deserve to be full-blown members of our society, with careers, and families, and everything else that everybody else deserves and gets."
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