This blog is on topics of interest to early career professionals who work with people with disabilities. Blog contributors have diverse perspectives on leadership, professional development, and success in changing systems to better serve people with disabilities and their families. For more information on Early Career Professionals, check out the website:

03 March, 2015

Appreciating Those Who Lead You to Success

Zach Goble, EdS
Former University of Kentucky UCEDD trainee,  and former Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center LEND trainee
School Psychologist, Scott County Schools

When I was asked to be the early career professional blogger for the month of March, I was immediately enthralled by the opportunity. For weeks, I brainstormed about what to write and thought about what would touch the biggest audience. Eventually, I ended up writing four different drafts (i.e., “Creating Your Own Path to Success,” “Taking Advantage of Every Opportunity,” “Making the Most of Your LEND/UCEDD Training”, “Life outside the AUCD Network”). Each time I wrote a new draft, the central message always seemed to be the same: the importance of a strong support system in your personal and professional lives. So without further ado…

Thank you to my first true mentor, Dr. Laurie Couch. As my undergraduate adviser/ professor/ department chair/research lab director/life coach, etc., Dr. Couch had no way of avoiding me. Luckily, she made no efforts to. Instead, she taught me to love psychology, about the value of research, how to find my professional niche, and most importantly, about not being afraid to step out and create my own path in life.

Thank you to my friend, Jeff. Jeff is a young adult two years my junior who has cerebral palsy and autism spectrum disorder. He is the first person who helped me realize that I wanted to work in the world of disabilities. He also helped me realize that whether or not the world likes it, you just have to be yourself. I can guarantee that I have learned more about life and friendship from Jeff than he could have ever possibly learned from me.

Thank you to my University of Kentucky/Human Development Institute-UCEDD/Cincinnati Children’s-LEND mentors who spent their time and energy to help mold me into the early career professional that I am today. In particular, I’d like to thank Dr. Rachel Hammond, Dr. Harold Kleinert, and Dr. Karen Edwards. It was your confidence in me that helped me know I could reach whatever professional goals I wanted to! With your guidance, I was able to land my first job as a school psychologist and use the wisdom you embarked on me to start making my mark in the community.

And lastly, to my wife and son, Jenn and Jude. Your love keeps me focused, driven, and joyful (insert tears here). You cannot be appreciated enough.

I am not publicly thanking these individuals just stay in their good graces (although I’m sure it will help). I can guarantee that without my personal and professional networks that I wouldn't be anywhere close to the position that I am in today. It is my hope that this highly personal blog will help each of you reflect and recognize some of the most influential individuals in your lives who have helped you get to where you are today. Take the time today to personally thank those people.

Now, it is our turn. It doesn't matter if you are a current trainee, early career professional, or nearing retirement, our training and association with the AUCD network gives us a special opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives. Whether it’s through mentoring, clinical work, public policy, or advocacy, we can directly impact people’s lives. Gandhi said “be the change you wish to see in the world.” I’m beginning to think this guy was on to something.


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