As the Continuing Education Marketing Manager for TestOut, I attend my share of conferences. Almost all of them are worthwhile for connecting with colleagues, vendors and customers. Every time I attend a conference, I come back energized and excited at all the new advances in the training industry.
As best I can tell, there are several hundred tech-related conventions held each year just in the U.S. Unfortunately, my time and energy are limited, so I have to be selective when it comes to attending these IT gatherings.
One particularly useful conference I recently attended was the New Horizons Computer Learning Centers 2018 International in Orlando, Fla. This unique three-day event brought together 200 representatives from 66 campuses and 15 countries.
There were plenty of receptions and after-hours gatherings with some tasty food. Manning the TestOut booth gave us the opportunity to reacquaint with old friends and meet a bunch of new ones — always a pleasant experience.
With a little free-time on our hands, we dusked into Sea World where I was surprised and soaked by six orcas. It was no fun walking around in wet clothes, but I kept reminding myself that it was 28 degrees back home in Utah, while I was in Orlando with a comfy 82 degrees.
We also had a meeting with the folks from New Horizons. They were excited to share how, since adopting TestOut courseware as part of their curriculum, the pass rates for their students and the overall level of satisfaction has increased. New Horizons is doing some great things for their students, especially in their program to train veterans who are transitioning to the private sector
There were also some inspiring presentations. One that stood out for me was by the Detroit-born singer/songwriter Ali McManus. This young woman is beating the odds. A rare bone disorder has left her in a wheelchair since the age of 7. She is only 20 years old and, in her short life, has endured 10 surgeries, halo tractions, steel rods to fuse and straighten her spine, a full body cast, scoliosis, and osteoporosis that leaves her vulnerable to fractures and high-risk surgeries.
Her address was titled “Becoming Unbreakable,” which also happens to reflect the title of her debut album, “Unbreakable.” She told how she overcame physical challenges to build a full life. Her message was inspiring and caused me to reflect on how someone can find strength to accept the hand they were dealt and not complain, but rather accomplish noteworthy things.
As Ali put it, “I don’t see myself as a person in a wheelchair. I see myself as a regular person who just happens to sit down all day. I don’t sweat the small stuff, and I believe positivity is the only way.”
Her message also caused me to ponder how IT training can help anyone regardless of age or physical condition. If a person is willing to put forth the effort, they can gain the skills to live a rich and full life.
TestOut’s mission statement is “We make a difference in a person’s life through education using breakthrough technology.” Over the past 26 years, we’ve helped more than one-million students and professionals improve their educations and careers.
It’s humbling when you think of so many people who have believed in themselves, took the challenge to improve their careers and lives through IT and have succeeded. Like Ali McManus said, “Positivity is the only way.”
About the Author — Cameron Davidson is a marketing manager at TestOut Corporation and UI/UX designer for TestOut's LabSim training platform. In addition to his many other talents, he knows what a good, fresh chocolate-frosted chocolate cake donut is supposed to taste like, and will accept no substitutes.