George Mason University

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Chris Nace

Mason alumnus Chris Nace, BA Conflict Analysis and Resolution ’12, has become known for the self­advocacy courses he’s created. Some of his course work is being adopted around the country, including in Virginia.

Remaking Special Education to Empower Those With Special Needs

When other children were finding their voice, Chris Nace felt silenced.

That’s because he wasn’t allowed to participate in conversations about how schools would accommodate his cerebral palsy. At age 12, he wasn’t asked to give input at meetings with school administrators.

But when he went to college, he was determined to give kids like him a voice. And he knew it would take more than an education degree. So he signed up for the School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution (S-CAR).

[I thought] if this is happening to me, it's happening to kids everywhere. At that moment, it became imperative for me to help change that.

Chris Nace, Class of 2014

Conflict exists not just in war zones, but in public schools. “You’re in danger if you are not able to articulate what you need to be successful,” Nace said. 

After an internship with the District of Columbia Public School system, he was hired as a translation specialist. Now he writes curricula that show teachers how to empower special­-needs students to find jobs, take public transportation, shop for groceries, and live independently once they graduate.

“We are trying to change the stigma of disability in society,” he said. “Mason taught me that everyone deserves a seat at the table.”