College of Communication > About > College News > 2020 News > Meet Lily Voyles: World Traveler and Advocate For Students with Disabilites

Meet Lily Voyles: World Traveler and Advocate For Students with Disabilites

Lily Voyles
Lily Voyles, a senior communication major, dedicates her time to advocating for students with disabilities. (DePaul University/Jeff Carrion)
Lily Voyles, a senior communication major with intercultural communication and hospitality minors, doesn't let anything stand in her way, especially learning disabilities. In addition to her studies, Voyles volunteers regularly in the Chicagoland area, has visited 18 different countries, and helps organize, coordinate and plan events for the Delta Alpha Pi International Honor Society for students with disabilities.  Voyles, who transferred from Harper College in 2017, says she was drawn to DePaul because of the services offered by the Center for Students with Disabilities.

“I read about DePaul's services and saw everything they offered on the tour. They had services  had the opportunity to use, such as smart pens and smart pads," Voyles says. “I also liked how the CSD office is in the Student Center where all students go. It's not hidden away or isolated from the main part of campus."

Voyles has been academically successful at DePaul and is deeply engaged in student life. In spring 2019, she worked closely with Lavonne Kopca, assistant director of CSD, and Michael Butler, another senior Blue Demon, to bring the Delta Alpha Pi International Honor Society to the university.

“The purpose of DAPi Honor Society is a true passion for Lily, and she is very articulate in expressing the need for the university to include disability in diversity conversations to promote a welcoming and inclusive campus climate," Kopca says. “Her efforts in DAPi are directed at raising awareness of the strengths of people with disabilities, as attitudinal barriers are just as real as physical barriers."

Though Voyles now proudly carries the title of vice president, the position means more to her than just a title.

“DAPi is the only international honors society for students with disabilities," she says. “It is a way for us to show people that we are just as capable as anyone else. I see it as an opportunity for us to educate the DePaul community and the world about people with disabilities, and to remove some of the stigma around disabilities."

In addition to DAPi, Voyles spends time volunteering at Women In Need of Growing Stronger, an organization that works towards breaking the cycle of domestic violence. She and her mom have been volunteering at WINGS for seven years.

“WINGS is the biggest domestic violence organization in the Chicagoland area, and it's all about helping women become financially stable and independent, helping parents and children, and, of course, teaching women the signs of abuse and how to move on from the trauma," Voyles says. “It's an all-around good experience for everyone involved, and I love helping out."

Voyles also has volunteered at Anderson Animal Shelter and has raised funds for the animals.

In addition to volunteering, Voyles also has an impressive travel record. Of the 18 countries she has visited, three of her trips have been studying abroad with DePaul. A trip to Italy focused on Roman Catholicism. Trips to Switzerland, France, Hong Kong, Singapore and Macao focused on their respective hospitality industries.

Throughout her time at DePaul, Voyles has sought out ways to educate others, as well as to create a space on campus for students with disabilities to celebrate their academic successes. Voyles has never let her learning disability get in the way of her pursuits, and she doesn't plan to stop anytime soon.​​

Originally published on DePaul Newsline​.​