What projects and new ideas are exciting you personally, academically, professionally?
I currently work for Special Olympics International as Manager of Unified Schools. My work focuses on increasing the number of schools worldwide that offer Unified Sports, a program that fosters social inclusion by bringing together people with and without intellectual disabilities to play and train together. Unified Schools uses sport as an entry point to teach and promote social inclusion in education settings. Having grown up participating in Unified Sports and volunteering for Special Olympics with my family, it is amazing to see how we have been a part of this global movement that is active in over 170 countries.
Have you been keeping in touch with your Bezos Scholar Alumni, and if so — how?
I mostly keep in touch with other Bezos Scholars through Facebook and social media. It's great to see what other scholars are doing and support their work when possible. Along with being a Bezos Scholar, 2009 Scholar Simon Boehme and I were also both Mitchell Scholars in Ireland from 2014-2015.
Which influential books, albums, podcasts, or films would you personally recommend to the BSP community of curious minds?
I highly recommend the Aspen Ideas To Go podcast. It features really interesting talks from events the Aspen Institute holds and a variety of perspectives on different topics from science to art to politics. It makes me relive my Bezos Scholar Program experience all the time!
This year, 2018, is the 50th Anniversary of the founding of Special Olympics. I'm finding inspiration in the example of our founder, Eunice Kennedy Shriver. The sister of President John F. Kennedy, she was inspired to create Special Olympics because of their sister Rosemary, who had intellectual disabilities. As the sibling of a woman with an intellectual disability myself, it's very inspiring to see how she saw how unjustly the world treated her sister and those like her and created what is now a worldwide movement of inclusion. When I am stressed or want a reminder of why I love what I do, I listen to her speech We are the Peacemakers and look at the stories of the incredible Special Olympics athletes like my sister, other youth leaders, coaches, and family members out there making their schools and communities more inclusive every day.
Anything else you want to share?
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a Hungarian psychologist, said that "Enjoyment appears at the boundary between boredom and anxiety when the challenges are just balanced with the person's capacity to act." I hope everyone has an enjoyable 2018, full of experiences that challenge you and help you grow in your work and your life. I'm so inspired by all the incredible work you all do!