Date: Thursday, August 24, 2023
The RESNA Conference has come and gone for another year! From the welcome reception happy hour hosted by our PSG/SIGs to my last presentation with Mark Schmeler on NIDILRR’s Disability Rehabilitation and Research Projects, it was an amazing event all the way through. It was especially gratifying to see NIDILRR’s Phil Beatty and Tom Corfman present their own session at RESNA, the first time NIDILRR has directly presented. I could write page after page about my experiences, but I want to reflect on 3 major things: I could write page after page about my experiences, but I want to reflect on 3 major things: the honor of receiving the RESNA Fellow award, the energy and excitement of the students and young professionals at the conference, and the "Why.”
I’ll start with the “Why” behind RESNA.
It isn’t the workshops, per se, or the continuing education or even the Experience Hall. It is the randomness that comes from being in close proximity of other people who like to nerd out about assistive technology and rehabilitation engineering. It is the creative intelligence that can only come from being around other people who share your values. It’s the short conversation that happens when you’re waiting to talk to a speaker after a presentation where you make a spontaneous connection. I don't know what the conference will look like in the future, but the randomness of ideas that comes from being around people of varying perspectives and experiences is worth more than gold.
The second thing I want to explore is how we can continue this momentum we saw at the conference with our young professionals.
Students and young professionals are the key to our organization. We have to figure out how to build off the momentum of this conference to engage and inspire them and to let them know that RESNA has so much to offer them. RESNA is a guide that they can use to propel their career, and we have to show them how. They will innovate with new ideas, but we must be examples that show them RESNA’s potential. We must be their coaches, mentors, sponsors and role models.
Finally, I want to talk about the RESNA Fellow Award.
It is truly an honor and a privilege to win this award. The Fellow represents all that is good in RESNA. RESNA is guide for me, and others, to accomplish our professional goals. Without this guide, I surely wouldn’t be where I am today. There are so many people I want to thank, but I’m going to pause on that. I just want to focus on the symbiotic relationship between an organization that has done so much for me and I have done for it. So thank you RESNA. It has been an honor working with you.