DJ Savarese Loras

Loras College to present free screening of ‘Deej,’ documentary on autism Oct. 19

DUBUQUE, Iowa — Loras College and its Lynch Learning Center welcome DJ Savarese (“Deej”) to campus at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 19 inside the Alumni Activity Center during the screening of the acclaimed new documentary “Deej” based on Savarese’s remarkable life as an autistic individual.

The screening, free and open to the public, is made possible by the generous donation from Schoen Family Charitable Trust and is part of the Deej Inclusion Tour, a series of more than 50 campus and community screenings across the United States.

“We all need support of one kind or another and we all have something to offer in turn,” said Lynn Gallagher, Ed.D., director of Disability Services at the Lynch Learning Center. “DJ’s story is extremely relevant in today’s world. Society will benefit with a shift away from the culturally loaded concept of independence to that of self-determination, respect and interdependence.”

In this first-of-its kind collaboration between a veteran filmmaker and a nonspeaking autistic person, Robert Rooy and Savarese share editorial control as they navigate the challenges of representing autism. The documentary is told largely from the inside by Savarese.

Abandoned by his birth parents and unable to speak for himself, Savarese found not only a loving family but also a life in words, which he types on a text-to-voice synthesizer. As he makes his way through high school and dreams of college, he confronts his past, obstacles to inclusion, and the sometimes paralyzing beauty of his own senses.

Savarese graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Oberlin (Ohio) College in May with a double major in anthropology and creative writing. An ASAN Scholar Fellow, he was also the recipient of Oberlin’s William Battrick Poetry Fellowship and their Comfort Starr Award for meritorious scholarly work in anthropology. As a writer, he has published poems and prose in The Iowa Review, Seneca Review, Prospect, Disability Studies Quarterly, StoneCanoe, and Voices for Diversity and Social Justice: Literary Education Anthology.

The tour and screening are also to raise awareness of the film’s broadcast premiere, on America ReFramed at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 17 on the PBS World Channel (check local listings).

Seating is limited. RSVP to

For more information on the Loras College Lynch Learning Center, please contact Gallagher at or 563.588.7921.

Loras leverages its historic roots as Iowa’s first college, the second oldest Catholic college west of the Mississippi River and one of the nation’s 10 diocesan institutions to deliver challenging, life-changing experiences as part of its residential, Catholic setting. Loras ranks among 450 NCAA Division III athletic programs in Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup standings, 11th out of the Top 100 baccalaureate colleges, according to the 2016 Washington Monthly College Rankings, 13th Best Regional College, according to Midwest U.S. News Best Colleges and is among the 200 Best-Loved Colleges in the nation, according to Forbes Magazine.

Visit, call (563) 588-7100 or (800) 245-6727, like Loras College on Facebook or follow @lorascollege to learn more.

Director of Communications & Marketing
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