Spend a little time with Mia Rublee and you’d think conflict is the last thing she’d be involved in.
A highly-accomplished scholar and athlete – despite living most of her life in a wheelchair – Rublee seems to be constantly cheery and never without a smile. But when she see something she thinks is wrong, she’ll be one of the first to speak up.
Her parents adopted her from South Korea in 1987, when she was 3, and told her she could do anything their two other, able-bodied children could do … so she did. She graduated from Page High School in Greensboro, then earned a degree in social work from the University of Illinois and followed that up with a master’s in social work from UNC Chapel Hill. She has done a lot of competing in track and even represented the United States in fencing in Budapest in 2013.
But it was when she began looking into being part of the Woman’s March in Washington, the day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, that things really took off in her life.
At first, she was just looking into the North Carolina version of the march but when a lot of people with accessibility issues like her own couldn’t get all the answers they needed from the folks at the national march, Rublee offered to help … and was one of the key organizers for people with mobility issues for the national march.
After the exhausting planning and event, itself (“I think I went home and slept for an entire day,” Rublee says), her involvement wasn’t over.
“I got a message sent to me over email and was told that I was picked to be one of the people who was going to accept the award,” she says. “I was stunned.”
“The award,” was the Woman of the Year award several of the Women’s March organizers had bestowed upon them from Glamour Magazine. Big stuff.
“I knew that I was a hard worker and that I would always work hard but to be where I am, today, no I really had no idea,” Rublee said.
She is continuing her work in civil rights but says working for them doesn’t have to separate us … it can bring us together.
“There's always going to be conflict and I'm hopeful that even though we might take a step back, we can continue to push the ball forward, in terms of equality for people,” she says.
See Rublee and her work in this edition of the Buckley Report.