Benefits of HDFS

During my time at UD, many faculty members had a great influence on me. I always felt supported by faculty, staff and fellow students in the program. Most departmental faculty members took a personal interest in my success and guided me through the first challenging months as a foreign student in the program. Faculty provided me with extra time for assignments and assisted me in improving my written English. The interdisciplinary nature of faculty members provided so many different ideas and perspectives and enriched my understanding of human development and family dynamics from a cultural angle, a developmental angle, psychological and environmental perspectives.  My advisors helped me to be independent in decision-making and more confident in my abilities. They consistently conveyed to me that they believed in me and my potential. My advisors also sought out professional opportunities for me. They connected me with local and national organizations, got me involved in UD-specific and national student activities, encouraged me to submit posters and presentations to local and national conferences and helped me secure funding to attend conferences of interest to me. Through the department, I had assistantships in research, teaching and community work that prepared me well for my future career, and when I finished my Ph.D., I knew that I could make it in academia or in a community-based position.

Of most influence were my graduate program advisor and my assistantships with the Center for Disabilities Studies, one of 67 University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD) in the country. My advisor helped me find my passion in the field of developmental disabilities and provided me with many opportunities to explore the field. My studies at UD, as well as my assistantships at CDS, provided me with the knowledge and skills I would need to succeed in the field.

At the end of my PhD program, I had the opportunity to write a successful federal grant with my colleagues at CDS, which created a full-time position for me. Quickly, I moved from project coordinator to limited term researcher to unit leader within CDS. After six years at CDS, I felt ready to take on new challenges as an Associate Director at another UCEDD. There, after a short year, I became Director of the center. None of this would have been possible without my training at the Department of Human Development and Family Studies and the many faculty members who supported me. They helped me find my passion, start my career and build my leadership skills. I will always be proud of having been an HDFS student and will be forever thankful to the faculty members who worked with and supported me.

Ilka Riddle
Assistant Professor, University of Cincinnati
Director, University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities

 

Benefits of HDFS

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