US Capitol Building

Student Scholarships: Disability Policy Seminar

Whittney Darnell and Rongxiu Wu, doctoral students in the University of Kentucky Human Development Institute (HDI) Graduate Certificate program in Developmental Disabilities, recently received HDI Student Scholarships to attend the Disability Policy Seminar in Washington, D.C.

The Disability Policy Seminar is an annual conference put on in collaboration by multiple national disability organizations including the Association for University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD). The conference focuses on educating participants about policy issues affecting people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

While there, Wu had the opportunity to discuss advocacy directly with policy staffers. Darnell visited Capitol Hill and said, “what a cool experience that was to exercise the right to have a voice, and share concerns with our elected leaders.” Additionally, Darnell and Wu attended two full days of conference sessions, networked with students and professionals from across the nation, and learned about national and local policy and programs.

“From my lens as a communication researcher, it was fascinating to see how well the presenters, keynote speakers and breakout session leaders unified their experiences and designed simple deliverable messages that attendees could take with them to the Hill. In addition, it was an intensive education on the ins and outs of Medicaid, how it operates currently, and how proposed changes may change the way Medicaid operates in the future. It was an education that most Americans never get, and unlike anything that we would get in the classroom,” Darnell said.

Wu echoed Darnell’s enthusiasm for the conference stating, “The Disability Policy Seminar was one of the greatest conference experiences I have ever had in my academic life.”