The National Rehabilitation Association is truly fortunate to have so many active, talented and committed members. We would like to feature more members through Member Spotlights.
To give you an idea of the value of Member Spotlights, the following is Sara Sundeen’s Member Spotlight. We know you will appreciate Sara’s words of wisdom and will be encouraged by her example.
Tell us about yourself. Feel free to tell us about your family, hobbies, interests, etc.:
I live in Minneapolis, Minnesota and graduated from the University of Wisconsin Madison. I feel fortunate to have had amazing mentors and leaders throughout my career. I feel I bring a unique perspective to my work having worked in jobs ranging from direct service to management. I have worked in a variety of settings including Private-for-Profit, Workers Compensation, Non-Profit/Community Rehabilitation Provider and the State VR agency.
My husband and I have been married for 16 years and we have two boys. I enjoy scrapbooking, card making, gardening, dancing and binge watching Netflix. I love to travel and see new places. NRA has allowed me to visit many places and I am grateful for the friends I have made across the country.
What was your path into the field of rehabilitation? Please tell us about your education, any “ah ha” moments, mentors and other influences:
I fell into the field of rehabilitation. I was not sure what to major in, and a guidance counselor suggested Rehabilitation Psychology 101. I found the class interesting and declared Rehabilitation Psychology as my major. I continued at the University of Wisconsin at Madison and got my Masters in Rehabilitation Counseling. I am a CRC and owe a lot to the professors at UW-Madison. I had a great practicum experience at DVR in Wisconsin and a wonderful internship at the Courage Center in Minneapolis. I have been fortunate to have amazing supervisors who encouraged and supported my growth.
What accomplishment are you most proud of (professional or personal)?
An accomplishment I am proud of is my family. My kids are 10 and 12 and I love watching them grow. They are funny and bring life into perspective. We share a love for superheroes, Star Wars and action movies. We love to travel and play games.
Why did you join the National Rehabilitation Association, and what impact has membership had on your career?
I have been a member of the National Rehabilitation Association since 1998. I joined because a coworker told me the best way to get to know people in the field of Rehabilitation was to join the Job Placement Division (JPD). Since then I have embraced the idea that you get what you give from a professional organization.
I have served in various leadership roles within JPD, Minnesota and at a National Level. I served because I was asked. I was asked to run for NRA President and declined, believing I was not experienced enough. I was asked again and decided to serve. It was one of the best learning experiences of my life and has helped be expand my networks, knowledge and skills. I would tell anyone who thinks "I'm not experienced enough" to quiet that voice and seize the opportunity.
What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about a career in rehabilitation?
Talk to professionals. There are diverse opportunities for rehabilitation professionals. I loved supervising interns and I would always encourage them to do some informational interviews, job shadows or site visits within the private and public sector. Try and gain experience in the community in which you would like to work, and be open to learning and willing to make mistakes. Finally - join a professional organization. I can tie all my job promotions and career moves to experience and networks I gained through my National Rehabilitation Association involvement.