Member Spotlight: Lydia Dawley
Meet Lydia. This college senior is determined not to let anything stop her from achieving her goals! She has done all sorts of amazing things with assistive technology and hopes to help students with disabilities discover how it can help them. She believes it’s so important to advocate and show the world what people with disabilities can do. We’re so fortunate to have Lydia as a member on the Network.
What's your story? Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Lydia is a 22 years old senior at University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. Her major is Liberal Studies with special interest in Communication Sciences and Disorders and Special Education. She hopes to be an assistive technology specialist. She wants to figure out what and how students can use technology. Her goal is to have a clinic where there would be an assistive technology specialist, occupational therapist, speech-language therapist, and physical therapist. She explains that she wants to have a place for people with disabilities to go and get resources where everyone is on the same page.
Lydia is from Decorah, Iowa which is 3 1/2 hours away from Whitewater. She graduated from high school in 2015, and she was the first high school student in Iowa to participate in individual and large group speech competition who used an augmentative communication device. Since her junior year in high school, she has been an ambassador for Prentke Romich Company. She explains that they have communication devices and apps, and she goes around the Midwest to conferences talking about her experiences and about the app LAMP Words For Life.
This summer, Lydia is an intern at Access to Independence in Madison where she helped with the peer support program. Now, she helps teach classes at colleges about what resources there are in college for people with disabilities.
How are you involved with self-determination?
When Lydia lived in Iowa, she spoke at events to help inspire others to advocate for themselves. “I think that is important” she says.
Why did you join the SD Network?
Lydia explains that she believes it’s important to advocate and to bring awareness to the world, so that people with disabilities can be seen as people first and allowed the same opportunities as everyone else.
Tell us some good news - what's the most exciting thing happening for you (or in Wisconsin) in terms self-determination?
Since she’s planning to graduate from Whitewater in May, Lydia is applying for grad school at UW-Stout for Rehabilitation Counseling Program, and she explains how it’s kind of stressful because she has to pull all of the items they need. She’s also applying for an Assistive Technology Certificate at the University of Illinois in Chicago; she wants to have enough creditability to work with people with disabilities because she’s afraid that parents won’t want their kids to see her.
Lydia is also excited that she recently got a job offer from Control Bionics to be a freelance writer for them. She’ll start writing about clients that use their device. She explains that the device is a patch that can be placed anywhere on the body and when the muscle contracts, it clicks on the device with the scanner feature.
What tip or resource would you like to share with people who want to be more self-determined?
Lydia encourages people to not be afraid to “beat to your own drum” and ignore the people who say that you can’t. “I can’t tell you how many times people said I couldn’t do something, and I just ignore them because I know that they don’t know me. I know myself so if they don’t want to help me, it’s okay,” she explains.
What are your hobbies?
“I guess I don’t have any hobbies, I’m just a “typical” college kid,” Lydia jokes. She says she’s on social media all the time, and she likes to binge watch things on Hulu and Netflix. She points out that when she’s in school, she’s too busy with homework or work to do anything.
***We love hearing the views and opinions of Network members. We need to mention that the views and opinions expressed on this site are those of the person who is sharing them. They do not necessarily reflect InControl Wisconsin or any of our supporters and funders.