Amy Camilleri Zahra

Name Surname: Amy Camilleri Zahra

Country: Malta

City: Birkirkara

Nationality: Maltese

Sector: Education

Position: Lecturer

As I finished sixth form, I enrolled at the University of Malta to start reading for a degree in Mechanical Engineering. In my second year of the course I got sick with meningitis. This left me fighting for my life and as an effect I lost both my legs from below the knee, parts of my fingers and later my kidney function. A year later I went back to Engineering, however in third year I was not feeling happy and satisfied with my work and made the decision that I’d rather work with people. As a result of my decision, I decided to resign from Mechanical Engineering and started reading for a degree in Psychology at the same University. During my first year reading for a Bachelor in Psychology with Honours I was undergoing dialysis since my kidneys had stopped working due to the meningitis. After the exams of the first semester, I received a kidney transplant from my father which changed my life. I was reborn and felt more energised than ever. I continued with my degree and graduated with a first class

Straight after finishing my degree in psychology, I started working as a Professional Youth Support Worker with youths who finished formal education without any certification. During this time I was also an active Disability Rights activist and I also worked with the Commission for the Rights of Persons with Disability as a Disability Equality Trainer visiting schools and corporate agencies and giving training about disability etiquette. After 8 months, I started working full-time with the Commission for the Rights of Persons with Disability as an Assistant Manager, in charge of the protection and monitoring of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability. In 2012 I started reading for a Masters in Disability Studies with the University of Leeds and in 2014 I graduated with a distinction. In 2015 I was promoted to Manager.

In 2015 I started reading for an M.Phil with the possibility of proceeding to a PhD. The approved title of my thesis is The intersection between disability and gender- the social representations of disabled women. In 2016 I also started working as an Assistant Lecturer at the University of Malta. Between September 2014 and March 2016 I also presented a weekly television programme on Malta’s national channel TVM. The programme was funded by the Malta Employers’ Association and each week we discussed a different topic related to the job market and employment in Malta.

I have also been appointed Key Expert several times on a number of projects, including the writing of an opinion piece by the European Economic and Social Committee on the European Accessibility Act.

Throughout these years I have remained active as a Disability and Women’s Rights activist. I have also co-founded and presided over an NGO titled Amputees4Amputees which offers support to amputees in Malta. I am also one of the Vice-Presidents of the National Council of Women.

Throughout the years I have also received the following awards:

November 2006: Junior Chamber International: The Outstanding Young Person Award - Personal Achievement

February 2008: Kerygma's Youth of the Year Award

March 2016: Nominated for the Secretary of State (United States of America) International Women of Courage Award

September 2016: US Ambassador's Women of Courage Award

September 2016: Outstanding Young Active Citizen Award by Junior Chamber International.

To surround themselves with good mentors who have their best interest at heart.

To find something which gives them the strength to face the challenges they are going to meet along the way.

To never give up because there’s always a way.