Excellent. Conscientious. Hard-working.
These are just a few of the ways her co-workers describe Alana Russo, Cotting School class of 2003. Alana has spent Tuesdays sorting mail at Lahey Clinic in Burlington, MA for five years. When she’s not at Lahey, Alana spends her time at activities through her social club, advocating for her neighbors at her housing complex where she lives on her own, and spending time with friends and family. Her eleven years at Cotting played a major role in her successes as an adult living independently.
“Cotting taught me how to read, how to maintain a budget, how to make friends, and how to use public transportation. My teachers taught me that I could be a productive member of the real world,” Alana recalls. She remembers a difficult conversation with a Cotting guidance counselor in her early days: “Why do I have this disability? Why won’t my CP (Cerebral Palsy) just go away?” Our thoughtful, dedicated staff helped Alana accept every part of her identity, and she learned to see for the first time her abilities, not just her disabilities.
She remains loyal and grateful to Cotting to this day. She and her friend, Bethany (pictured, left), organized a dance at Cotting last year for classmates to come together, reconnect, and reminisce about the good old days! “I wouldn’t be where I am today without Cotting. The friends I made and the staff that helped me have become like a second family to me.”
See more from our interview with Alana in the feature below!