My name is Julien Stainback. I am currently a first-year at Antioch College and have just started my first co-op job at Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation Center in New Hampshire. I am slowly integrating into a new lifestyle here on the mountain, using my experience with transience to adjust quickly and live well here. Throughout my life, I have seen and lived in many places all over the country. With a lot of luck, I have consistently been able to adapt after a period of time, really growing with each experience.
This is what drew me to Antioch for the most part as I knew I could handle a culture that requires a lot of transitioning and moving from place to place. Being a college student works for me as I get the chance to experiment and continue to learn from multiple teachings, perspectives, and lifestyles. With this in mind, I chose to come here to see a point of view that I had never experienced before and work with a demographic that I had always wanted to work with but simply never have.
People with a wide variety of disabilities live and learn here at Crotched Mountain. Assisting them through their days at the school is my primary job, but I also support them as fellow human beings. It is quite the eye-opener to really be working in-depth with kids and adults with similar conditions. Back home in Maryland, this was an entire population of people that I had never even interacted with and it boggles my mind as to how the world treats them. I considered myself to be empathetic, but only now do I realize that I could have been much more understanding of people in general. While working with students, I think back to my days in high school and even some moments at Antioch where I was very introspective, but I did not include other people’s feelings, thoughts, past experiences, and opinions in my thought process. Now it is what I do for a living! I feel that even with only a few days on the job, I have helped people in a genuine and real way. It is quite meaningful.
When thinking about mental illnesses and/or disabilities in general, I think of my family. What would it have been like if a sibling or even one of my parents was in a facility like this? What is it like for the students’ and residents’ families to work through this? It is oftentimes challenging to work with the students, but I have a degree of separation where I eventually am able to leave and clock out for a day. I almost feel undeserving, seeing how hard some of these people are working just to be accepted by outer society or even by themselves. I think that the longer I stay with these people, these real and relatable people, the better I will be able to understand, and the more I can do to help. I want to start here, working and helping to educate, and someday move up to the role of a neuropsychologist or something in that vein of study to more directly support people with disabilities and their families.
I know that if I or any of my other family members were diagnosed with a behavioral or developmental disability that I would want someone who could try and really want to empathize to be working with and supporting us. I think that is something I want to be. I am only 19 and I have a lot to figure out… but I think that helping people in some capacity is necessary to make me feel fulfilled in life. Having a career in this field is not easy, I am sure, but I am starting to really consider putting in the hard work for it.
Photo credit: https://www.nhpr.org