BY MEGAN STANDISH
The moment my friend Deanna Hedges told me about the Summit, I was on board. It was the first semester of college for me, and it was also the first time I had to deal with a chronic illness/disability by myself. I wanted to go to the Summit to learn how to advocate for myself and get the help I needed at school. I didn’t really know what to expect from the Summit, but it exceeded any expectation I may have had.
I connected immediately with the other delegates and felt right at home among these strangers who understood what I have been struggling with for over 3 years.
During the day, we heard from several different speakers. I enjoyed hearing from all of them, but 2 sessions really stuck out to me. The first one was when Samantha Miles spoke to us. Sam’s session really stuck out to me because she is a teen living with chronic illnesses, so everything she said was relatable. She was very well-spoken and happy to talk with us afterwards. I was also impressed by her courage and willingness to share her struggles with all of us.
“I connected immediately with the other delegates and felt right at home among these strangers who understood what I have been struggling with for over 3 years.”
The other speaker that I really connected with was Dorothy Lenard from Capability Coaching. Her session was focused on how to advocate for yourself in college and taught us about the differences in disability services between high school and college. There was a lot of things I didn’t know, and this was the session I had been hoping for.
I learned so much about accommodations in college and was able to apply the new information while trying to navigate college life.
The other part of the Summit I enjoyed was just the connections I was able to make with the other delegates. I have Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS), which is a somewhat rare condition. I didn’t think that I would be able to find anyone at this Summit that has POTS as well, but I did! I also learned more about other chronic illnesses by talking to fellow delegates. We all became friends within a short window of 7 hours, and I was sad to leave the Summit that evening. Sneha and the other leaders were so welcoming and friendly, and I was so glad to have the opportunity to attend the Summit. I can’t wait to return in the fall of 2018!