In what has become an annual tradition, I joined several pulmonologists from Children's Hospital of Philadelphia in addressing the second year students at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, where I have seemingly become a regular speaker. In fact, some of today's students remembered me from my spring presentation, when they were in their first year of school. I might just have to change my material next year -- maybe I'll an outrageous foreign accent or something!
As usual, my favorite part of speaking to the students was answering their questions. As the work that I do involves assistive technology, I enjoyed answering the question I was asked about how I use my computer (voice recognition software and an infrared camera mouse). But I thought that the most interesting question I received was when someone asked me when I knew I would attend college and how that decision came about. That was easy. I always planned on going to college. My parents expected me to do so. Where I attended high school, it was practically unheard of not go to college. I saw myself as no different from anyone else. Plus, while I was in a motorized wheelchair, and I missed some time to have spinal fusion surgery, I was relatively healthy.
I would love to be as healthy and energetic as I was back then. Even so, I felt fortunate just to be here, doing what I do best: talk. Whether anything useful actually came out of my mouth, well, I'll let the students be the judge of that!