September 13, 2022 By CDHD Meet our fall 2022 student trainees With the academic year well and truly underway, the CDHD is abuzz with activity. We have welcomed another group of University of Idaho students to the CDHD student trainee program. They have hit the ground running, lending their time and hands to help our projects with a range of activities. This semester will see a few familiar faces returning after a well-earned summer break. We’re also welcoming some new faces. We’re happy to see them all and can’t wait to see all the great things they accomplish. Read on to meet all of our trainees and find out a little bit more about them: Alena Ramkissoon Degree: Child Development Project: Self-Advocacy Movement (SAM) and artAbility Welcome back, Alena! How long have you been working at the CDHD? Alena: I have been working at the CDHD for a year now. I started in the first semester of my freshman year and now I am now beginning my sophomore year. What drew you to apply for the student trainee program at the CDHD? Alena: I found out about the CDHD when Melissa Crist came to my Early Childhood Education Class on campus and gave a presentation on the CDHD and IdahoSTARS. After learning about the project, I was eager to apply. Oh great! And what are some of the best parts about working at the CDHD so far? Alena: The best part of working at the CDHD is the amazing group of mentors here. My supervisors Olivia and Melissa have been an incredible help to me through balancing work and school life and have been super supportive. Working here is not just about getting a paycheck, you feel a sense of value and that you make a difference. You learn so many skills and are immersed in a community of genuine, loving people. And what are you looking forward to the most about working at the CDHD this semester? I am excited to work on two new projects that I have not been a part of before, and learning just a little bit more about the CDHD and what we do here. Areli Morfin Degree: Urban Planning Project: artAbility Areli, you are another one of our returning trainees. Welcome back! How long have you been working at the CDHD? Areli: I started working here during the fall of 2021. I started out as the new project coordinator for artAbility. This year will be my second year at the Center and the coordinator for artAbility 2022-2023. What drew you to apply for the student trainee program at the CDHD? Areli: I was introduced to the CDHD through a previous project coordinator that mentioned I should apply for this position. He thought I would be a good fit. I was drawn in by the flexibility, support and community involvement that the Center provides. The trainee program provides great opportunities to collaborate with other students and be part of projects that help people with disabilities. Sounds like you’ve already achieved a lot at the CDHD. What are some of the best parts about working here so far? Areli: I really love meeting and interacting with participants who join the artAbility workshops. I enjoy seeing all the cool artwork they create. Also, one of the best things that happens here at the CDHD is seeing everyone’s project be successful. I also enjoy attending trainee seminars because I always learn something new. The information provided gives me more insight into what is currently going on and how it affects people with disabilities. What are you looking forward to the most about working at the CDHD this semester? Areli: I’m looking forward to planning this year’s workshops for artAbility. I’m very excited to get to know and collaborate with the new trainees and be involved in their projects! Carolina I Gutierrez Degree: Pre-vet Project: Idaho SESTA Welcome back, Carolina! How long have you been working at the CDHD now? Carolina: For about a year now maybe? I started working my freshman year – fall 2021. What drew you to apply for the student trainee program at the CDHD? Carolina: I worked in the caregiving field when I was home for two years, and knowing there was more of a professional side of it seemed very interesting to me. When I was looking through recruiting sites, I wasn’t excited about any of the jobs on Handshake until I came across CDHD. Oh, interesting. And what have been some of the best parts about working at the CDHD so far? Carolina: The best parts that I have came across are working with computers, printers, projects … dealing with all of those things because I’ve never had this kind of job. It’s all new to me and I love it! What are you looking forward to the most about working at the CDHD this semester? Carolina: Now that I’ve been here for a year, I feel more confident, comfortable and excited for the conferences that I can attend or even putting the essentials together. I must say I did miss CDHD over the summer. Grace Vitek Degree: Elementary Education with a special education emphasis Project: Self-Advocacy Movement (SAM), Vandal QUEST Welcome, Grace! We are so happy to have you here. When did you start at the CDHD? Grace: This is my first semester working at the CDHD! What drew you to apply for the student trainee program at the CDHD? Grace: I learned about the student trainee program in the Spring when I attended artAbility, and I was excited by the opportunities for professional development and work within my area of study. What have been some of the best parts about working at the CDHD so far? Grace: I have enjoyed the collaborative atmosphere at CDHD and learning about the history of disabilities and resources available for the community. That’s great! What are you looking forward to the most about working at the CDHD this semester? Grace: I look forward to learning more through training sessions and developing professional skills while working on different projects this semester! Jeannie McConnell Degree: Biology Project: Idaho Living Well Welcome back, Jeannie! How long have you been working at the CDHD? Jeanie: About a year and a half (since February 2021) You’ve been here for a little while. What drew you to apply for the student trainee program? Jeanie: I started out working in customer support for IdahoSTARS and transitioned into the trainee program at the CDHD at the start of my sophomore year. It was a fantastic opportunity that fell into my lap, and I think it will provide me with valuable experience after I graduate. As a disabled student with a background in advocacy, this program aligns with my interests and gives me access to resources that are applicable to my life. That’s amazing! What are some of the best parts of working at the CDHD so far? Jeanie: One of the best parts about working at the CDHD is attending monthly trainee seminars and interacting with other students at work. The topics that are discussed at the trainee seminars are always interesting and unique. It’s important to me to be exposed to the different concerns and barriers facing those with disabilities in our community. I also enjoy the games we play and the discussions we have! What are you looking forward to the most about working at the CDHD this semester? Jeanie: I’m looking forward to exploring different aspects of the Idaho Living Well project. I’m interested in advocacy and public health related issues, so I think this project will continue to be a great fit for me. I’m also excited for the upcoming seminars, conferences and workshops happening throughout the semester. Kellie Matern Degree: Sociology and Organizational Sciences Project: DANI and Healthy Active Lifestyles Kellie, you are continuing your summer work with us, right? When did you start at the CDHD? Kellie: Yes, that’s right. I have been working at the CDHD since June of this year. What drew you to apply for the student trainee program at the CDHD? Kellie: I’m passionate about working with and advocating for people with disabilities. I heard about the CDHD at the UIdaho Bound before my freshman year and knew I wanted to apply. That’s great! What are some of the best parts of working at the CDHD so far? Kellie: I have learned so much about advocating in the three months I have been a part of the CDHD team. I have loved meeting coworkers and community members as well. And, what are you looking forward to the most about working at the CDHD this semester? Kellie: Maddie, Victoria, and I are going to the AUCD conference in Washington D.C. this November! I am so excited for the opportunity to go to DC with my coworkers and the CDHD! Kelsey Miller Degree: Criminology with a minor in sociology Project: CDHD CORE, Dissemination How long have you been working at the CDHD? Kelsey: My time here at the Center just started in August, so not long! Welcome! We’re so glad you have joined us. What drew you to the CDHD? Kelsey: I have a passion for helping people so after I found out about the Center, I knew this would be something that I would love and enjoy doing. I also wanted to learn new skills along with making my current skills stronger. Another reason I was so eager to apply as a student trainee is to learn how to be an advocate with and for people with disabilities. What are some of the best parts of working at the CDHD so far? Kelsey: So far, in my brief time here, there have been so many amazing parts to working at CDHD. The best thing in my opinion is the people here. Everyone is so welcoming, kind, understanding and genuine. Everyone is willing to help where it’s needed. Even though we are all working on different things or projects we all seem to have the same goals in mind. We’re glad you’re enjoying your time so far! And is there anything you’re looking forward to the most about working at the CDHD? Kelsey: Having this opportunity to work in such a wonderful place with a wonderful environment, I don’t take my time here for granted. There isn't one particular thing that I’m looking forward to yet. I’m just so excited to be here to learn anything and everything I can, gain new skills, and be a part of something so amazing. Maddie Coleman Degree: Exercise, Sport and Health Science with a pre-physical therapy emphasis Project: Health Active Lifestyles Welcome, Maddie! You’ve just started with us, haven’t you? Maddie: Yes, I started at the CDHD on August 22. This is my first term here! I will be completing my movement sciences internship this semester, and then I will go on to graduate in December. Amazing! And what drew you to apply for the CDHD student trainee program? Maddie: I heard about the program from a couple of different sources. First, I have a friend in my major who was a trainee at the CDHD for her internship last year. She had nothing but good things to say about the organization, the people and the projects she was working on. I thought I ought to check it out myself! I also heard about it through my internship program coordinator. Olivia Lebens had come into our class to talk about the program a few times. That exposure was enough to pique my interest. You’ve only been here a few weeks, but what are some of the best parts about working at the CDHD so far? Maddie: I really love the people I work with. The environment is comfortable yet productive, and I appreciate the support and care for my well-being that I get from my colleagues and superiors. Research can be tough sometimes, but the people make it worth it. I also love how many new faces I have gotten to know even in my short time here. What are you looking forward to the most about working at the CDHD this semester? Maddie: I am excited to dive deeper into the community and learn more about the history, the policy, and what it looks like to serve. This is an environment I have not had much of any experience in, and I would like to be more familiar with it. It’s important to understand the different populations in our society. Especially as someone who is going to be entering the healthcare field and will be interacting with people from all walks of life. I want to know how to best serve the disability community, and I like the idea of helping to make a difference along the way. I have already learned so much and can’t wait to see what the rest of the semester brings! Victoria Rae Degree: Exercise, Sport and Health Science Project: IATP and Healthy Active Lifestyles Victoria, you’re ‘returning’ to us after a summer at the CDHD. Is that right? When did you start? Victoria: Yes, I started working at the CDHD in late May of 2022 and have been working here ever since. Throughout the summer, I worked full-time here at the center. The last 3 months have certainly flown by because of all of my commitments in the two projects I work for! You’ve definitely been busy! What drew you to apply for the student trainee program at the CDHD? Victoria: I was drawn to the CDHD because one of my peers from school had worked here during the spring 2022 semester. Based on her experience as a student trainee, it sounded like a good fit – both as an undergrad looking for work and as a future grad school applicant. My academic advisor also encouraged me to apply because of the unique opportunity it provides to work with the disability community. Based on their feedback, I applied. It’s definitely one of the smartest decisions I’ve made for my academic and personal endeavors. I can’t wait to continue working here during the school year! What are some of the best parts of working at the CDHD so far? Victoria: One of the best parts about working at the CDHD has obviously been the opportunity to serve the adults with disabilities here in Moscow. An additional upside is the chance to apply some of my practical skills in a professional setting. For example, I rarely use Excel during school, but at the CDHD, I use it for data entry, lesson-planning, inventory and other tasks given to me by the IATP staff. Needless to say, it’s been an amazing experience getting to put those all those skills to work. That’s great! What are you looking forward to the most about working at the CDHD this semester? Victoria: This semester, I am looking forward to teaching the fall Adaptive Movement in the Park classes and preparing for the annual AUCD conference this November in Washington DC. We’ve been making great strides in preparing for the conference. It’s super exciting to think that we get to share the benefits of Adaptive Movement at a national level. Hopefully we’ll watch it become widespread in communities throughout the country.