During my third year of grad school, I participated in a full year fellowship as part of the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) program at the University of Rochester Medical Center. This year-long fellowship introduced me to some pretty incredible people -- mentors, colleagues, and families -- who take on a leadership role advocating and supporting individuals with disabilities.
This experience offered me the opportunity to:
- Work in schools under the supervision of Daniel Mruzek, PhD. This work involved conducting assessments, evaluating programming, and partnering with educational providers to modify curriculum for students in their classrooms.
- Pair with a family who has a child with a developmental disability. This gave me a chance to be with a parent outside of the work setting and gain an appreciation of the family perspective on developmental disabilities. I continue to remain in touch with this family, which I consider a great gift to my training and my life.
- Meet colleagues in other disciplines who are leaders in the area of developmental disabilities. This has created for me and the families I work with a referral network that crosses different disciplines and service agencies in this community.
- Visit Congress and dialogue with Congresswoman Louise Slaughter regarding disability policy.
Of course, if you ask my colleagues (or my wife) about LEND, they will likely laugh out loud about what happened while I was in DC on my visit to Congress. Needless to say, one of my more medically-trained colleagues aptly noted over breakfast on the second day of our visit:
“Harrison, you’ve got bed bugs.”
To which I said, “Really? That explains all of this itching.”
Well, a few calls and a new room later, I was ready to advocate on the Hill after having my suit deloused. So in addition to great training, LEND helped with my dry-cleaning!
Here is my video about the LEND at URMC program, sans bed bugs.