September 19, 2016
Reflections on the Rising Leadership Academy

Guest blog: Jonathan Duvall, Chair, Student Advisory Council, USBLN and PhD student, Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Pittsburgh

Jonathan DuvallAfter completing the Rising Leadership Academy, it warms my heart and inspires me to see so many students and recent graduates with disabilities who have achieved so much success at their schools and universities. It reinforces and proves that people with disabilities have so much to offer companies, employers, the United States and the world in general. At the same time, it disappoints me that so many of these awesome students are looking for full-time work and have been looking for quite a while. The unemployment rate in the United States has been declining but people with disabilities are still about twice as likely as the general population to be unemployed. The Americans with Disabilities Act produced some great advances for people with disabilities but those advances do not include better employment of people with disabilities.

That is why the USBLN is so important, and why I am proud to be a part of the Student Advisory Council. We are showing employers that they shouldn’t hire people with disabilities because they have to according to law, but because it will allow them to produce better products and services and it will increase their bottom line, not hinder it. I will always remember someone telling me a while ago that in many STEM fields like engineering, people with disabilities should actually be considered MORE qualified than their peers without disabilities. This is because critical thinking, troubleshooting and problem solving are skills that people with disabilities have developed because of living with a disability and these are skills that employers want.

I’m really looking forward to the rest of the conference and can’t wait to network with more companies and professionals around inclusion of people with disabilities.


More from USBLN

October 3, 2016
The experience of a lifetime – Nirath’s Rising Leadership story
The USBLN conference was the best conference I have ever attended in my entire life. I was so excited to meet new people, especially the rising leaders of 2016. [Read More]


October 3, 2016
Lessons learned from the Rising Leadership Academy
Guest blog: Joe Brown, recent Kenan-Flagler Business School, University of North Carolina graduate and active job seeker The central focus of the USBLN Conference in Orlando, Florida spanning the days of Sept. 19-22 was disability inclusiveness in the workplace. It was truly an amazing experience. First, I want to talk about the breakout sessions. Although they were […] [Read More]


September 29, 2016
Rising Leadership Academy: An amazing experience
With a few days post-conference, to digest and process the events of the past five days. It really hit me what an amazing experience attending the USBLN’s 19th Annual Conference was. The Rising Leader Academy was an incredible experience! [Read More]


September 29, 2016
Impact of the Rising Leadership Academy: Robin’s experience
Guest blog: Robin Jenks Vanderlip, BA, MCBIET, MG, Rising Leadership Academy participant and George Washington University Fellow, Rehabilitation Counseling and Brain Injury Education [Read More]


September 28, 2016
Embracing my disability: Chidera’s story
The first time I got information on the USBLN Rising Leaders mentoring program I was on the verge of breaking down emotionally. I felt like there was nothing out there for me despite how hard I have worked to get to where I am. I will tell a little bit of my story in the hope that it motivates or inspires anyone that reads it. [Read More]