“Lillie is wonderful. She is so sharp,” Jaswal said. “My course is about the science and lived experience of autism and she is able to draw connections between these two things, which are too often considered to be separate.
“She brings a wealth of experience from her own background interacting with disabled folks. She is one of the most active students in making sure that the community partners that we engage with are made to feel part of our community.
“She’s also really excellent at bringing out the best in her peers at UVA, in the classroom, encouraging people to go deeper in what they have to say,” he said. “She is one of the most thoughtful students that I know.”
Two years ago, Neal connected with Rachel Lefkowitz over a Facebook post seeking a personal care attendant. “Lillie contacted me saying she was interested in the job,” Lefkowitz said last fall as she and Neal headed to Lefkowitz’s next class on UVA’s South Lawn.
The two quickly began filling their downtime with fun activities. A friendship grew.
“We do lots of different things,” Lefkowitz said. “Shopping. Movies. She helps take me to classes. Anything that requires the use of muscular strength, she helps me do those things.”
Neal and Lefkowitz also listen to a lot of music. “Lillie and I have a little bit different taste in music, but I think we are willing to listen to one another’s,” Lefkowitz said, laughing. “Lillie likes a little bit more twangy country and I like more pop country, but I also just tend to like more alternative music.”
“We do a lot of Buzzfeed quizzes, too,” Neal interjected. “We’ll do it at the same time to see if we get the same thing and like, half the time we do.”
On Sunday nights, Neal does a night shift at Lefkowitz’s apartment in Bice House. “I go over and I sleep over there. I’ll help get her ready for bed and help her wake up and do other tasks you couldn’t do if you didn’t have that much muscular strength,” Neal said.