Mia Shaikewitz is a television personality and spokesperson for disability advocacy. In October of 1993, Mia Schaikewitz was 15 years old and a rising star on her high school swim team. She was training for a new season when suddenly one evening, she found herself unable to move her legs. Within twelve hours, doctors discovered that a Spinal Arteriovenous Malformation (AVM) had ruptured in her spinal cord, leaving her paralyzed from the waist down. With resilient determination and a positive attitude, she moved forward to pursue her life goals.
Mia finished high school and then attended the University of Florida where she excelled socially and academically. She became the first woman in a wheelchair at the school to rush and pledge a sorority and graduated with top honors in Media Production. After college, Mia moved to Los Angeles where she worked in the recording industry; Mia later developed an award-winning career in graphic design and branding.
In 2012, Mia became one of the stars of the hit TV show Push Girls, which continues to impact audiences worldwide. The show is considered a trailblazer for breaking stereotypes about disability in Hollywood and it won the Critics’ Choice Award for “Best Reality Series” in 2013. This prompted Mia to become an advocate and prominent speaker for accurate inclusion in the media. She has been interviewed on Good Morning America, CNN, E! Entertainment, Ellen, and many other outlets.
Within her dynamic career pursuits, Mia is dedicated to raising AVM awareness and has a passion for staying physically active. She returned to her former sport of competitive swimming; Mia became the Swim Director for Angel City Sports, a leading Paralympic event. She is also a founding member of Infinite Flow — America's first professional wheelchair ballroom dance company, which now leads a global social movement for inclusive dance.
In this interview, with our Different & Able President and Founder, Alexandra Nicklas, Mia shares her amazing insights on the importance of perspective, why you should never settle, and how she journaled through depression. Mia also discusses Spinal Arteriovenous Malformation and her resilience in the face of darkness, insecurity, and fear. Today, Mia continues to live by her motto, “Believing in yourself means never having to say, 'I can't'!”