Diversity at the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD)
October 6, 2016 | Caitlin Chasar
Before I began my internship experience at the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) through the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), I was very excited because I had heard how wonderful the AUCD Executive Director Andy Imparato and his staff were all throughout orientation the week before. When I arrived, one of the first things that stood out to me was the great diversity among AUCD’s staff. It seems that the office does a great job at hiring diverse staff. Not only are there staff members that identified with various racial and ethnic minorities, but there are several staff members who are living with different types of disabilities. I had never experienced this in my past employment experiences and it resonated with me. At times, I felt as though my employer had not adequately taken the time to understand what I could and could not do, therefor limiting what I was able to do on the job compared to my able-bodied colleagues. However, this is certainly not the case at AUCD. I was immediately integrated into all parts of AUCD and asked to contribute to a variety of their initiatives.
In the past month, I have absolutely loved interning at AUCD. I have been able to help many different staff members with projects and have gained skills and experience in working with people from all backgrounds for the common goal of increasing inclusiveness for people with disabilities in all areas of life. I have also had the privilege of accompanying Andy on an array of off-site meetings at different organizations and on the Hill. I feel that even as an intern, I am valued at this organization and I am helping the staff help others affiliated with AUCD throughout the country. The staff has been welcoming, friendly, and positive every day and everyone seems to work well as a cohesive team. This has showed me how important the workplace environment and who works at your workplace impacts how you feel about work. I believe all workplaces should strive to include all forms of diversity when hiring employees. So much can be gained through this, such as learning how to work better with those who are different than you, and realizing that we as people are much more similar than we are different.
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Caitlin Chasar was a 2016 AAPD Summer Intern. She is from North Wales, Pennsylvania, and is currently pursuing her graduate studies in Clinical Rehabilitation and Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Edinboro University. This summer, Caitlin interned with the Association of University Centers on Disabilities.