Vejas Vasiliauskas: Manhattan Beach, CA

Vejas Vasiliauskas is an upcoming college senior at Loyola Marymount University, studying English. He has been blind since birth due to Norrie's disease, which typically manifests itself with the addition of gradual hearing loss. Vejas has been an avid Braille reader from a very young age. In elementary and middle school, he participated for a few years at the National Braille Challenge, a program in which 60 students from across the U.S. and Canada are chosen to participate in a yearly program to compete and show their Braille skills in reading comprehension, sentence proofreading, spelling, graph reading, and transcribing.

After graduating in 2015 from Mira Costa High School, Vejas deferred his placement at Loyola Marymount University to attend the Louisiana Center of the Blind in Ruston, LA, one of the three independent living skills training centers founded by the National Federation of the Blind (NFB). There he had classes in skills such as Braille, technology, travel, cooking, and wood shop. These skills made it much easier to be able to transition into college.

Vejas first became interested in law when he attended jury duty in the summer of 2018. Although he was not able to participate on the jury, he had been called as a potential alternate and was therefore able to experience the entire questioning and selection process for the case, which involved knife assault. Vejas is strongly considering attending law school. He hopes, from the fellowship, to be able to solidify this decision. He is also very eager to be able to learn from the webinars, learn about the struggles other disabled lawyers have experienced, and hear their advice. Vejas has a passion for both reading and writing and is a staff writer for his college newspaper, The Loyolan. He is also very passionate about Website and electronic book accessibility for the blind. 

During his time as a fellow Vejas has also been featured in the Loyola Law School Faces of LLS blog. 

Vejas shared the following about his experience with the fellowship:

The Coelho Center Fellowship has been influential in allowing me to explore the intersections of policy and law. The fellowship has provided me with resources to assist me in furthering my education beyond just public health. Through this experience, I've been able to see just how policies like the American's With Disabilities act influence my community.

I found out about the Coelho Center fellowship from the Center's director, Katherine Perez, shortly after being hired for the summer as her intern. During the mandatory introductory week, I felt as though I was able to connect with every single attendee on some level. I appreciated hearing from both lawyers and attorneys within the disability community. Learning about the struggles some people have to go through simply to receive their basic needs and have a successful education was eye-opening. I would definitely encourage students to apply for future fellowships with the Coelho Center.  Learn more about Vejas' work with The Coelho Center.