TEDxFIU in Review: Ileana Rodriguez

Architecture alumna Ileana Rodriguez ’08, M.Arch ’11 began her TEDxFIU talk with a question: “What do you see?”

At first glance, the answer is easy – a woman in a wheelchair, dressed from head to toe in orange.

Rodriguez challenged the audience to see beyond the obvious. Using her orange dress (a project from one of her architecture classes) as a visual aid, she walked the audience through what makes Ileana, Ileana.

Her story begins on two legs in her homeland of Cuba, though she is now on four wheels and a proud American. Arterial Venus Malformation took away the use of her legs at age 13, but Rodriguez has come to the conclusion that her wheelchair, her “device,” is not a hindrance.

Rodriguez has taken her device around the world, most recently representing the United States in the 2012 Paralympic Games, where she placed seventh in the 100m breaststroke. She is clearly much more than just a woman in a wheelchair.

Watch her full TEDxFIU talk below:

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