Miya Rodolfo-Sioson, long-time advocate for disability rights, died at 10:45 a.m. December 3, at Highland Hospital, with her brother Renato at her side. Miya was being treated for inflammatory breast cancer. She was 40 years old.
In November 1991 Miya was about to graduate with high honors from the Global Studies program of the University of Iowa. She worked as a temp for the university’s Grievance Officer in the Academic Affairs Office.
Gang Lu, a new Ph.D., un-happy because he was denied a major dissertation prize, en-tered the office on November 1 and shot the Grievance Officer and Miya. She was the only person not on his hit list, and the last of the six people he shot before turning the gun on himself.
She was the sole survivor of the shooting, living for more than 17 years afterward. As a result of her injuries, she became a quadriplegic.
In 1996 she and Renato joined their mother Sonya in Berkeley. There she was well-known and admired as an active and successful champion for people with disabilities and a fighter against injustice. She sat on the Berkeley Commission on Disability from 1998 to 2006, serving as chair for part of that period.
In 2002 she was hired by the nonprofit organization Swift USA. She was the program coordinator for foreign ex-change high school students, matching them with local host families and organizing tours, until the cancer diagnosed in May 2007 rendered her unable to perform her duties.
Miya was noted for her humility, compassion, wry humor, gentle disposition and warm personality. She avoided dwelling on the circumstances that resulted in her disability, focusing instead on the present and moving forward.
She will long be remembered in Berkeley by those who benefited from her work as well as her family and many friends. Kelley Kolberg, Miya’s morning attendant, said of her, “My job with Miya was one of the best I’ve ever had. I’ve never known a more remarkable person, not to mention great friend.”
A documentary about Miya will come out in early 2009.
For the trailer, go to http:// web.me.com/juliendaniel/ Miya_of_the_quiet_strength/ Welcome.html
In lieu of flowers, please donate to Miya’s favorite charity, Whirlwind Wheelchair International, http:// www. whirlwindwheelchair. org/, or to the Inflammatory Breast Cancer Research Foundation, www.ibcresearch.org.