California Association of Blind Students' Seminar:
Another Great Success

By Bruce Sexton, Jr., First Vice President, CABS



On April 9, 2005, the California Association of Blind students held its semi-annual seminar in Sacramento at the Holiday Inn Capitol Plaza. We are pleased to report that it was well attended with 32 people registered. This year we mixed some old ideas with some new and exciting ones. As long as I have been on the board we have had speakers in the morning, a lunch break, and focus groups in the afternoon.

This year we stuck with that tradition and added door prizes as a twist to our day. We also added a 50/50 raffle, which created some excitement. This was the first NFB event for many who were in attendance, and I believe we left them with a good impression. Our agenda was filled with great speakers and topics. The board really came together making it an exciting, smoothly run, educational day.

Our speakers included Dr. Fred Schroeder, Patricia Leetz, Priscilla McKinley, Chris Foster, and Haben Girma. Dr. Schroeder, our keynote speaker, gave a phenomenal speech covering topics ranging from the importance of training to what it takes to be truly successful. Thien Vu said he is going to take Dr. Schroederís advice and become a full-time student and raise his skills. Patricia Leetz spoke about consumers rights in Rehab, and addressed questions from audience members. Priscilla McKinley, who did an immense amount of behind-the-scenes work for the seminar, gave a synopsis of her life before and after blindness. It is great to know that she has learned about the NFB and is now a confident Ph.D. candidate. Chris Foster also gave an excellent speech discussing the importance of choosing oneís own future. Haben Girma, who is at the top of her class at Skyline High School, spoke about her adventures to Mali. Each speech created an elaborate illustration of how competitive, confident, and innovative we as blind students can be!

Everything from the lunch break on was the highlight of my day, and not just because we had pizza. Yes, my favorite food was on the menu, but I always love the lunch break because it serves as an opportunity to get to know each other. As a group we walked to Round Table Pizza, which accomplished several things. It gave us a chance to get some fresh air and exercise; it gave us a chance to talk about the speakers; and it was a great time to exhibit our collective travel skills and confidence. During lunch everyone introduced himself or herself, contact information was exchanged, and the students discussed the things they liked about the seminar.

We began rotating through focus groups after lunch. They were half an hour in length and included such topics as dating, dorm verses apartment living, extracurricular activities, and college preparation. The small groups gave everyone a chance to express his or her opinion. The focus groups tied everything together so that no questions were left unanswered. We invited Lisamaria Martinez, Chris Foster and Mariyam Cementwala to help lead the conversations. I was very impressed by the NFB spirit of hard work. We, the California Association of Blind Students, would like to thank everyone who participated and who helped make Aprilís seminar a success. We look forward to seeing everyone at our National Convention.