Melissa Thrives Portrait


Disability and Healthcare Advocate, Blogger, Speaker and M.A candidate, Melissa Vassallo has dedicated her life to sharing her message. She is best known for empowering others to live life ‘Thriving‘ not just surviving and is the recent recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for her ongoing accomplishments in this area.

Melissa became a person with disabilities as a passenger in a tragic car accident in 2002. She suffered catastrophic impairments, was hospitalized for over 1460 days in seven hospitals in the United States and Canada, endured numerous surgeries and over one hundred procedures, and spent several more years in intensive rehabilitation.

Her life today is an example of what is possible when you choose to thrive. She is the woman behind the first Accessible Sailing program in Oakville, the former Co-Chair of Rick Hansen’s Wheels in Motion event, the founder of an Access Award scholarship at the Canadian Federation of University Women (CFUW) Oakville, and a popular speaker on the power of patient-centered care.

She has a B.A. Hons in English Literature, a certificate in Business Management Skills and is now completing her Masters at York University in Critical Disability Studies. A proud Alumni of Queen’s University, Melissa is looking forward to attending the first ever accessible Homecoming event at Queen’s as a keynote speaker this fall, and delivering the keynote address at the launch of its Accessibility Hub.

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