September 13, 2022 By CDHD Welcome, fall 2023 student trainees! Campus is abuzz with students and so is the CDHD office! Join us in officially welcoming this semester’s group of student trainees. There are a few familiar faces returning to work along with our newest members of the trainee team. Read on to get to know a little bit more about each of the trainees that will be helping us out over the fall 2023 semester. Thank you, trainees, for helping us build a more inclusive Idaho. We are grateful for your time and skills. Abril Correa Degree: Psychology and Child Development, minor in Spanish and Academic Certificate in Diversity and Inclusion Project: Healthy Active Lifestyles, Self-Advocacy Movement Welcome back, Abril! Is this your second year working at the CDHD? I started working at the CDHD in the fall of 2022 – almost a year ago! What drew you to apply for the student trainee program at the CDHD? I am always open to opportunities and Olivia came into my ECDE 235 course to share about the CDHD. I was really drawn to the fact that the CDHD has various opportunities for students of several degrees. I knew I wanted to work with a group of other student trainees who are goal-driven and passionate about their scope of work. I knew that CDHD was my ideal place to work at because I wanted to have not only an impact in my community but within myself. That’s great! And what have you found to be some of the best parts of working at the CDHD so far? The best parts of working at the CDHD so far have been getting to know a lot of people from the University and community. It was an honor to be a part of IdahoSTARS last academic year in developing Targeted Technical Assistance (TTA) on Building Resilience in Young Children. I really enjoyed being able to create a TTA that will be used throughout the State of Idaho as a form to coach providers on building resilience! What are you looking forward to the most about working at the CDHD this semester? This semester I am a part of Healthy Active Lifestyle Program, and I am so excited as I will be one of the Instructors for Movement in the Park. And I will be a facilitator with Self-Advocacy Movement. I am looking forward to being able to be more hands on within the CDHD and get to meet more people throughout my time here. Alena Ramkissoon Degree: Child Development Project: artAbility Project Coordinator Another returning trainee! Welcome back, Alena. How long have you been working with us now? I have been at the CDHD since the beginning of my freshman year. I’m a junior now. What drew you to apply for the student trainee program? [IdahoSTARS Director] Melissa Crist came to my FCS 210 class and shared information with us about the CDHD and IdahoSTARS. Not knowing what I was getting into I decided to apply! The incredible learning experience, supportive staff and supervisors, invaluable opportunities and experiences, and the chance to become involved in my community led me to keep applying each year. We’re so glad you’re enjoying your time with us, which leads perfectly to the next question – what are some of the best parts of working at the CDHD so far? Aside from community involvement, working at the CDHD provides trainees with so many educational experiences. No other job would allow me to take IdahoSTAR training, learn about history, police, and standard practices in trainee seminars, as well as tour professional clinics and the DD council. And, what are you looking forward to the most about working here this semester? I am excited to put together art workshops that will be enjoyed by participants as well as celebrating 10 years of artAbility. Caleb Wessels Degree: Pre-vet Project: Idaho Assitive Technology Project and Idaho SESTA Welcome, Caleb! How long have you been working with us? I have been working at the CDHD for a little over two weeks now. I have been working with Alena on the artAbility program and getting to know all the staff. As a new trainee, the experience has been excellent, everyone is exceptionally kind, helpful and welcoming. I'm so glad to hear that you're settling in. What drew you to apply for the student trainee program at the CDHD? I first learned about the CDHD because of a presentation Olivia and a fellow trainee gave in my Special Education class where they gave information about the Center and asked anyone who wished to apply. As a future educator, having experience working with people with disabilities is vital to providing all kids with the best opportunities I can. I believe that the CDHD is the best way to do this. Learning how to be a genuine advocate for folks will allow me to improve the lives of everyone I work with in my time here and inform my experiences for the rest of my life. You haven't been with us for long, but what have been some of the best parts of working at the CDHD so far? The best parts of working at the CDHD so far have been the amazing self-advocates and the staff. Everyone, from leadership to general staff, cares so much about what they do. It is profoundly inspiring. It fills me with a sense of hope and makes me excited to come to work every day. Working with the self-advocates has been nothing but wonderful thus far as well. I have met so many amazing people I never would have without being here and it makes every day a treat. What are you looking forward to the most about working here this semester? What I am looking forward to most is learning all I can from my fellow trainees and leaders to learn how to make a big difference in the lives of self-advocates. There is so much I still have to learn, but seeing the fruits of everyone’s labor goes to show me that putting in the effort to learn how to make these amazing projects possible is worth it. I am excited to get into supporting artAbility more and making a big difference here at the CDHD. Carolina Gutierrez Degree: Pre-vet Project: Idaho Assitive Technology Project and Idaho SESTA Welcome back, Carolina! How long have you been working with us? I have been working at the CDHD for almost three years now! Oh wow! You may be one of our longest serving trainees this year. What drew you to the CDHD three years ago? I was drawn to the student trainee program at the CDHD because I had worked as a caregiver for two years in high school. Learning more about the educational side is very interesting to me. What have been some of the best parts of working at the CDHD so far? The best part of work, for me, is getting to communicate with my supervisors to see what the workday will bring. Another part that I really enjoy is learning more information and news about disability laws. That’s great! And what are you looking forward to the most about working here this semester? I am excited to work both with IATP and SESTA. I worked with SESTA my first year here at CDHD and by my second year I was moved to IATP. Erin Dineen Degree: Psychology, VTD Project: Healthy Active Lifestyles Hello, Erin! How long have you been working with us? I have been working at the CDHD since June. What drew you to apply for the student trainee program? I applied because I am interested in learning more about people with lived experience. I also wanted to focus my work on things that make me feel like I am doing something valuable. What are some of the best parts of working at the CDHD so far? So far, I think my favorite thing about working with the CDHD is all the learning opportunities. I also think the atmosphere is kind and accepting, which is refreshing. What are you looking forward to the most about working here this semester? I’m looking forward to getting to know the people I work with more. I’m excited to learn from them and their experience, and I’m excited to be part of a team that helps others. Grace Vitek Degree: Elementary Education, Exceptional CHild Generalist Project: Vandal QUEST Grace, we’re so glad to have you back! How long have you been with the CDHD? This is my second year! And what drew you to apply for the student trainee program? I learned about the trainee program when I attended artAbility in 2022. I was drawn by opportunities to learn about disability and participate in professional development related to my area of study. Ah yes, it’s a perfect fit for your academic goals. What have been some of the best parts of working here so far? CDHD has a strong, welcoming community, and I appreciate everyone’s willingness to share their knowledge and experiences. What are you looking forward to the most about work this semester? I am looking forward to learning more professional skills and getting to know the new students in QUEST! Isabella Gillmore Degree: Recreation, Sport, Tourism Management, Psychology Project: Idaho SESTA and Healthy Active Lifestyles Hello, Isabella! You’re another returning trainee. When did you start with us? I started attending CDHD events in the fall of 2022 to gain hours for a class. Then I was hired as an official trainee the following spring. I did some remote work over the summer for Idaho SESTA and now I will start my second semester as a trainee. Fabulous! Thank you for your help over the summer. What are you looking forward to the most in your second semester with us? This semester will present me with new opportunities to start working with Healthy Active Lifestyles. I am very excited to take this on as it aligns with my degrees. I look forward to connecting with more people in new ways. And what drew you to apply for the student trainee program? I took an online class during the fall where I had to get 80 hours of hands-on experience. This was my first semester at university. I was directed to Olivia at the CDHD. She took me on and helped me accomplish these hours. I was able to participate in trainings, all the events and get to know each of the participants. Then in the spring, Olivia invited me to officially become a trainee. I loved the atmosphere, opportunities and people that came with being a part of the Center. Oh, that’s great! We’re so glad you found us. What have been some of the best parts about working with us so far? All staff members and fellow trainees welcomed me into the CDHD with open arms and loving hearts. I have found a community here that I am filled with gratitude for. Getting to know the members of our community through events has been one of the best parts. My knowledge and heart for this field of work has expanded in incredible ways. Jeannie McConnell Degree: Biology Project: Idaho Living Well Jeannie, I think you’re one of our longest serving trainees this semester. How long have you been working at the CDHD? Almost two years and seven months – seems like it flew by! Yes! We’re so glad you’re still with us. Thinking back, what drew you to apply for the student trainee program at the CDHD? I originally did not apply for the student trainee program. I started out as customer support for IdahoSTARS and Olivia convinced me to become a student trainee! I am happy everything worked out the way it did. It was meant to be! What have you found to be some of the best parts of working here so far? I have learned so much in the near three years I’ve been here. Being a trainee has taught me professional skills, and working on the Idaho Living Well project has given me the confidence to pursue a career in advocacy. I plan to apply to graduate school at the end of the semester, where I will continue to work in public health, either as a genetic counselor or disability advocate. That’s so great, Jeannie. What are you looking forward to the most about working at the CDHD this semester? I am looking forward to the monthly trainee seminars and the artAbility workshops coming up. Since it is my last year at the CDHD I want to enjoy every minute. Kincaid Moberly Degree: Sociology Project: Self-Advocacy Movement and Disability Advocacy Network of Idaho How long have you been working at the CDHD? I am a new trainee at the CDHD. I just started this semester! Oh, that’s right! Welcome! What drew you to apply for the student trainee program? Alena invited me to attend a Disability Etiquette Training last year. Since then, I attended an artAbility workshop and the artAbility Showcase, becoming more impressed with the authentic care and dedication the CDHD puts into this community and its members with disabilities. I came to the CDHD to learn what it means to help others on a personal, community and professional level. That’s wonderful – what a great goal to kick off your time with us. It’s only been a few weeks, but what have you found to be the best parts of working here so far? Everyone at the CDHD is very kind and supportive, so that’s probably the best part. As for the work I do, my favorite part (so far) has been learning about all the different programs and how they intersect to form these essential support networks. It is amazing to see the work we and our community do to create better lives for everyone. And what are you looking forward to the most about working here this semester? I look forward to seeing the work we’ve been planning put into action! While I am mostly on the policy and advocacy side of the CDHD’s work, I love to see the events and projects created by the trainees and our leadership. I am especially looking forward to the ArtAbility workshops and events! MK Khalifa Degree: Architecture Project: IdahoSTARS How long have you been at the CDHD? This is my first semester working at the CDHD. I’m very excited about it! Welcome! What drew you to apply for the student trainee program? I found out about the CDHD trainee program at the On-Campus Job Fair during the previous spring semester. I initially didn’t think I would be able to find a possible job opportunity that was enriching, but talking to Olivia Lebens at the CDHD booth about the trainee program totally captured my interest. After researching more about the program, I became enthusiastic about applying. Excellent – I’m glad you’ve joined us this year. In your brief time so far, do you have any favorite parts of working at the CDHD? The work environment and people at the Center are both positive and encouraging and it makes working here worthwhile. I am grateful that I get to learn to be a more inclusive person and advocate for people with disabilities. I think being around likeminded people is good for my mental health. Although we may work on different projects, we are all interconnected. I also love that I have my own desk! And what are you looking forward to the most about working with us this semester? I’m looking forward to working on creating a Targeted Technical Assistance or training that is STEM related. I think it will push me to do something new and learn more about child care and development. I’m also excited to learn more about the history of the CDHD’s work as well as the history of disability in the United States. And, I think the Trainee Seminars are something to look forward to. Stephanie Gonzalez Tena Degree: Criminology and Sociology, minors in French and Spanish Project: Idaho CDHD Core, dissemination Stephanie, welcome back! How long have you been at the CDHD? I believe I have been working here since October 2022. Oh, you’re coming up on your one-year anniversary. And what drew you to apply for the student trainee program? I am friends with Areli Morfin, the previous artAbility coordinator. Every now and then I would help her by volunteering at workshops or if she just needed an extra hand for something on her end. By showing up, I learned more about how to interact respectfully with people with disabilities and found resources for family members who might have disabilities. After working with her, I realized that I wanted to learn even more about accessibility and how to fight alongside the community to make sure they’re getting what they deserve to thrive in this society. It’s great that you’ve been able to integrate your passion to advocate. What have been some of the best parts so far? Personally, some of the best parts of working here are that I am always learning something new; I always look forward to learning more so that I am not just stuck in my own head, if that makes sense. People here are patient and willing to tell you if there is something that shouldn’t have been said for various reasons. They are willing to work alongside you in learning new ideologies and terms. And what are you looking forward to the most about working at the CDHD this semester? I am looking forward to the new artAbility workshops. It seems they are more texture based, so that will be interesting. I enjoy how creative the coordinators are. Victoria Rae Degree: Exercise, Sport and Health Science, Pre-OT Project: Healthy Active Lifestyles and Idaho Assistive Technology Project Welcome back, Victoria! How long have you been with the CDHD now? I’ve been working at the CDHD since May of 2022. I was originally full-time during the summer of 2022 but had to switch to part-time once school started back up. Since then, I’ve remained part-time but that doesn’t mean I get less stuff done – no way! Part-time? Impossible with everything you’ve helped us with! Speaking of that work – what are some of the best parts of working at the CDHD so far? One of the best parts of working at the CDHD are the opportunities I get to work directly with the adults with disabilities within the Moscow-Pullman area. Whether it be at Movement in the Park (my main responsibility), artAbility or Self-Advocacy Movement meetings, I always enjoy the chance to interact with these adults and make a positive impact in their lives. Some additional ‘best parts’ about working at the CDHD are the friendships I have made with my fellow trainees, the various public speaking opportunities I’ve been granted, and the welcoming work environment the Center fosters for its trainees. What drew you to apply for the student trainee program? I was encouraged to apply for the student trainee program by my primary and pre-health advisors since I had expressed interest in finding a summer job in Moscow that was more relevant to my degree and career path. At first, I wasn’t too sure if it would be a good fit. Luckily, my advisors connected me with a fellow student who was working here at the time so that I could get better insight into what it’s like working at the Center. Based on her experience, I knew that I had to work for the CDHD because of the opportunities it would provide me to extend my educational experience in a way that was relevant to my career goals and aligned well with my personal passions. That’s always good to hear – finding a role that supports your career goals is so beneficial in college. And what are you looking forward to the most about working with us this semester? This semester, I am looking forward to continuing to instruct Movement in the Park classes and training the next set of instructors that will take over the class once I graduate in December. There are many other things that I am excited about, but I’d say that instructing one more semester of Movement in the Park is the thing I am looking forward to the most.