I was blessed to be a part of an organization that works to make life better for ALL individuals through collaboration with organizations across many different fields. Having won the Paul Kevin Burberry award is one of my greatest accomplishments because of what it represents. As described when I was presented the award, it is given to those who have (to quote) “demonstrated a strong commitment to people with disabilities through university and community projects and experiences, demonstrated a commitment to academic excellence in his or her chosen field of endeavor and demonstrated the leadership qualities exemplified by Kevin’s own life.” To know that I had a small part in demonstrating this positively affects many of the decisions I make today. —Allie Rhodes
How did you come to know HDI?
When I began my doctoral program at UK in the Early Childhood, Special Education, and Rehabilitation Counseling in 2011, I heard about HDI from some professors and other students. The social justice mission of HDI is what drew me to it, as this was an area in which I had always been interested.
How long were you with HDI and what was your role?
I was at HDI for about five years. I was a research assistant assisting with a number of projects, but my main role was as a research assistant for the Evaluation Unit.
During your time at HDI, of which accomplishments are you most proud?
I am proud of the work I did with the evaluation unit, particularly working with education grants such as the Kentucky SPDG, as I was able to apply my knowledge gained as a classroom teacher and what I was learning in the doctoral program. I was also proud of the role I played on the Consumer Advisory Council. Working with and learning from the members of the council was invaluable. Lastly, I will say that winning the Burberry Award was a huge highlight! I felt that my work truly made a difference.
Looking back, can you please share with us a fun or fond moment you had at HDI?
Looking back, I would like to say here that the work with the evaluation unit was enjoyable. I actually miss the camaraderie and collaboration between us… I enjoyed the work.
Do you have any advice you would like to share with current and future staff and students at HDI?
My advice to current and future staff and students at HDI is that no matter how difficult the work is, keep your eyes on the mission.
What do you think the future holds for HDI?
I am hopeful that HDI will continue to pave the road for everyone to live in a more inclusive world where they are respected for their contributions and strengths.