Research Assistant and Graduate Certificate Student, Mark Sumadre started his professional career as a Special Education Teacher at the elementary level. In the coming years he began to entertain the possibility of pursuing his Ph.D. in Special Education but felt he needed to stretch his scope beyond the educational context. So, he decided to apply for the graduate certificate in Developmental Disabilities. As an RA for the Quality of Life project, he surveys individuals who are currently looking to transition into the community. The survey addresses areas that are paramount to a certain level of quality of life. Serving as both a certificate student and research assistant has helped him gain a broader perspective of what we’ve done, what we are currently doing, and where we have yet to go in the field of disabilities.
Laura Smith Butler, MRC, CRC, Research Policy Administrator for National Core Indicators, explains what Mark is doing daily at HDI: “The Quality of Life survey project has a staff of two people (including Mark), so his work is essential to achieving the project goals. Mark coordinates all of our on-site visits which involves collecting guardian consents, contacting facilities, and coordinating with regional agency employees. He also completes the surveys with the project participants, which involves state-wide travel. Mark has involved himself with other HDI activities including mentoring a Supported Higher Education Program (SHEP) student, participating in the certificate program, and attending the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) conference in Washington, DC.
Mark shares, “The AUCD conference was an enriching experience to say the least. As a certificate student, we hear so much of the ‘network’ and are encouraged to reap the professional benefits it has. Sure—I could have told you what it was before the conference, but seeing it for the first time in action helped me solidify what being a part of the network really meant. It was an event that celebrated the success and achievements that have occurred in the field to this day, but it also ingrained in me that we are far from finished. I encourage any current and future trainees to take advantage of this opportunity. It is one thing to hear about the AUCD network, but it is another thing to experience it.