The New 97.7 Woman of the Week - Week of June 4, 2018
Name: Mary Ellen Gambon
From: West Roxbury, MA
About The Woman Of The Week: Mary Ellen is a native of Hyde Park, MA and a lifelong Boston resident. She graduated from the prestigious Boston Latin School near the top of her class in 1990 after attending the Boston Public Schools. This allowed her to earn a Boston Scholars (now called Menino Scholars) full-tuition academic scholarship to Boston University.
Mary Ellen earned two bachelor’s degrees simultaneously at BU in 1994, in Journalism and Political Science. Her most exciting experiences were writing her first published article at the White House in 1992 and attending President Bill Clinton’s inauguration in 1993 through their Washington Internship Program. Upon graduating, she earned the prestigious Pulliam Fellowship for journalism, awarded to ten college graduates across the nation.
Yet despite her education, Mary Ellen’s life has been full of challenges that most could never fathom. At BLS, she was in an MBTA bus crash that slanted her knees and caused her to develop epilepsy. She missed most of the ninth grade, was almost kept back, and never got into the honors classes she earned. She had reconstructive knee surgery and is missing half of the muscles in her knees.
She cannot drive a car because of her epilepsy. This has kept her from working on papers like The Boston Globe despite her education. She also has a MS in Public Administration from UMass Boston and pursued an MA in Journalism at Northeastern University. She faced discrimination when she was a press secretary and legislative aide at the State House. When she had a seizure, she was called an “embarrassment to the office.”
Mary Ellen has nearly died twice from a condition called status epilepticus in 1995 and 2016. She has more than 20 operations on her knees and ankles and has two replaced knees.
Mary Ellen has used her experiences as motivators. She has been a community volunteer and activist since age 22. She helped create the Hyde Park Main Streets program in 1995. She has volunteered with the Epilepsy Foundation New England for 7 years, recently being asked for advice on the national marketing team. She is on the board of the Greater Roslindale Medical and Dental Center and has volunteered with a number of organizations in southwest Boston for more than two decades.
Most importantly, she works as a freelance reporter with Bulletin Newspapers, a community weekly chain published throughout Boston. Her boss, Jeff Sullivan, took a chance on her after seeing her taking notes at a community meeting. The paper’s ad said, “Must have car, no exceptions.” He said, “I don’t give an (expletive) if you have epilepsy. You’ve got chops!”
She also writes for GateHouse Media as a freelance reporter for the Canton Journal, Stoughton Journal, Randolph Herald and Holbrook Sun.
Mary Ellen is hoping for a staff position in communications to demonstrate her full potential.
In her spare time, Mary Ellen is working on a book for her alma mater, Boston Latin School, to raise money for a scholarship fund in honor of her math teacher, Sylvester Keitt. She sings in the church choir at St. John Chrysostom Church in West Roxbury.
She recently testified before the City of Boston’s Commission on Disabilities on inadequacies on MBTA transportation and Boston public housing for people with disabilities. She routinely cannot get a seat on a bus despite using a cane. She calls herself the “Rosa Parks of the disability community.” She is a #MeToo victim.
Favorite 97.7 Artists: Prince, Alicia Keys, Whitney Houston, Mary J. Blige, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Earth, Wind and Fire, Sam Smith, Ed Sheeran and Bruno Mars.
Mary Ellen's Song Pick: Prince - “When Doves Cry”
Below is a poem that Mary Ellen wrote:
Listen to Me – The Real Me
By Mary Ellen Gambon
Listen to me
the REAL me
For once look beyond
What you can see
I’ve always been more
What I know I can be
My knees shattered circumstantially
In a bus accident so tragically
At age 14, how could it be?
Rendering me with epilepsy
Suffering from a broken identify
Self-esteem was not known to me
Still I fought valiantly
But no one saw the real me.
I have fought for every opportunity
With intelligence and alacrity.
But no one takes me seriously!
Is my smile what is deceptive to thee?
Or is it only the cane you see?
An impairment to you, helpful to me.
I get around, with two replaced knees
I am strong, and I no longer seize.
Yet I conquered death, not once, but twice.
My mom was told I would not live through the night.
Two decades later, epilepsy took another slice
But I fought back with all my might!
Yet some people still think it’s a mental disorder
And talk over me at meetings when they are out of order
Why can’t I turn this chaos back to order?
I feel like I should just play a tape recorder.
Listen to me, I have something to say!
I can be so helpful, if you gave me the time of day!
A reporter from the White House to Congress to your hometown.
No one can ever bring me down.
So, listen to me
I can give you advice
Disability does not to be a vice
Neither does color nor gender, too.
That’s why I can stand here and say #MeToo!
Congratulations to Mary Ellen Gambon, our New 97.7 Woman Of The Week!
Get details on how you, or someone you know, can be our next Woman Of The Week here!