Congrats, winter 2023 graduates

Congrats, winter 2023 graduates!

Congratulations, winter 2023 graduates!

As another semester ends, it brings another class of graduates at the University of Idaho. This winter, two of our talented student trainees will be walking the line to receive their diplomas, and we couldn't be more proud!

Congratulations, Stephanie Gonzalez Tena and Victoria Rae!

Before these two superstars take the leap to the next exciting chapter of their lives, we took some time for a little Q and A to reflect on their time at the Idaho CDHD. Read on for their best memories and what’s in the cards now that they’ve secured their degrees.

Stephanie is posing for a picture in front of the UI Admin Building. She is wearing her graduation robe over a white sequin dress. She is smiling proudly at the camera.

Congratulations, Stephanie!

I'm going to kick this off with a bit of a 'softball'. How long have you worked at the CDHD?

Stephanie: I think I just hit a year back in October.

Has it already been a year? Wow! What project(s) did you work on?

Stephanie: When I first joined the team, I worked on the Idaho Living Well Project under Jen Magelky-Seiler. In January, I switched over to CORE, specifically the Dissemination team with Carlie Tucker.

What is your favorite CDHD memory?

Stephanie: My favorite CDHD memory has to be when we traveled to Boise and all the student trainees were moved up to first class. All the student trainees but Victoria. Somehow, we were moved up and she thought we did it on purpose as she was walking down the plane aisle.

Ha ha! Oh no! Poor Victoria. First class, though ... that's a win. And what was your proudest achievement from your time at the CDHD (feel free to say scoring first class plane seats to Boise).

Stephanie: I would say my proudest achievement was starting up a winter community project with the help and guidance of Carlie. Engaging in this project has helped me learn more leadership skills and give back to the community.

That's so great! With all of your experiences in mind, what (in your opinion) is the best reason to become a student trainee at the CDHD?

Stephanie: You definitely gain an increased perspective on society. Before joining the team, I had limited knowledge about accessibility and how it can make or break someone. Becoming a student trainee helped me not only gain professional experience but also an increased understanding of true inclusivity.

And last but not least, you're graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Criminology and Sociology, with minors in French and Spanish. What's next? What are your post-graduation plans?

Stephanie: I plan on going back home for a little and then moving down to Arizona where I will be volunteering at domestic violence services and gaining experience to become a victim advocate.


Victoria is posing for a picture wearing a graduation cap and her sash and ropes to indicate her top academic performance. She is smiling and looking directly at the camera.

Congratulations, Victoria!

Hello, hello! Let's start off with an easy one. How long have you been at the CDHD?

Victoria: I have worked at the CDHD since May 2022. That means, at the time of graduation, I will have worked here for 18 months.

And what project(s) did you work on during that time?

Victoria: I worked for the Idaho Assistive Technology Project as well as the Health Active Lifestyles Project as a Movement in the Park instructor.

That's great! During your time on those projects, what is your proudest achievement?

Victoria: My proudest achievement from my time at the CDHD was the opportunity I had to present with fellow trainees at the national AUCD Conference in November 2022. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would be given the chance to present at a national conference in our Nation's capital on the importance of exercise. It was a truly unforgettable experience.

I'm also proud of how far my public speaking skills have come thanks to the countless opportunities I've had to present at conferences across the region and inside University classrooms. I can't believe that I've gone from trembling at the thought of public speaking to constantly asking Olivia if she needs help giving any talks.

I could go on about my proudest achievements from my time at the CDHD, but those are the ones that I'm definitely most proud of.

You should be! You've accomplished some really great things in the short 18 months you've worked here. Similar question: what is your favorite CDHD memory?

Victoria: My favorite CDHD memories are centered around my time as an instructor for Movement in the Park. Leading Movement in the Park has consistently been the best part of my day since starting as a trainee and I'm going to miss all the folks that have come to class since I took over in May 2022. I hope they never forget their time at 'Victoria's Boot Camp' (ha ha!).

I actually dedicated my grad cap design to all the adults with disabilities I've worked with since starting at the CDHD. They're the reason I want to continue working with this population and why I want to go into Occupational Therapy in the first place.

That is such a cool idea! I'm sure they will appreciate the sentiment. Speaking of graduation. You're finishing up with a Bachelor of Science in Exercise, Sport and Health Sciences with an emphasis in Pre-Occupational Therapy and a minor in Pre-Health Studies. What will you be doing with this degree?

Victoria: My plan for post-graduation includes pursuing a lifelong career in Occupational Therapy. I've applied to a few schools within the past few weeks and won't hear back from them until late-January to early-March. But I'm confident that my experiences and skills obtained as a trainee have made me into a very marketable applicant.

In the meantime, I will continue working at the CDHD as an IH Employee until I find out where I'll be going for my Master's Degree in Occupational Therapy; so I'm not going anywhere yet!

Wonderful! We'll have you a little bit longer. Since you're officially finishing up as a student trainee, what (in your opinion) is the best reason to become a trainee with us?

Victoria: The best reason to become a trainee at the CDHD is the opportunity you'll get to work with people with disabilities. I've been super fortunate to work directly with people with disabilities through my role as a Movement in the Park instructor and a natural support at artAbility. Thanks to the CDHD, my confidence in working with people with disabilities and my knowledge of disability in general has skyrocketed.

I highly encourage any student looking for a job to consider applying to be a trainee at the CDHD. No matter where you end up in life, chances are you'll work with someone with a disability either professionally, personally or both. The CDHD can help you prepare for that so that you can play an active hand in creating a more inclusive world for everyone.


Please join us in congratulating Stephanie and Victoria!

Well done for achieving this milestone and thank you for the time and skill you brought to your roles at the CDHD. We appreciate you and wish you both the very best as you set out on your next life adventure.