Alumni Updates - Fall 2015

November 15, 2015

Jennifer Decker, LEND 2015

Jennifer Decker, LEND 2015

I first learned about the LEND program through my participation in the NH Leadership Series. In 2013, I presented at a statewide advocacy conference with LEND faculty member, Ann Dillon. This sparked a conversation about LEND. I applied at the very last minute, so my enrollment was postponed until September 2014. I have grown up with a disability, and I work in the disability advocacy field, but I felt overwhelmed with the structure and pace of LEND. My biggest challenge was the small group work, as so many personalities came together and we were tasked with finding a middle ground.

The highlight of my LEND year was the Disability Policy Seminar in April. I've always known that I enjoy policy work, but working with my cohort on the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind just confirmed my place in the policy world. Meeting with our NH lawmakers in Washington DC was thrilling. Although I had considered grad school in the past, participating in LEND helped me find the courage to apply. I just finished my first term in the online Masters in Social Program at UNH. Had I not been successful at LEND, I certainly would not have jumped into a graduate degree. As I reflect back on my LEND year, I continue to be grateful for the support I received from my cohort, and from LEND faculty. For anyone who is considering becoming a part of LEND, I urge you to not overthink things, and to take the risk. LEND is a great addition to the toolbox of any disability advocate.