A Weekend to Remember by Matthew Gip

From the Editor: The National Federation of the Blind is comprised of 52 affiliates spanning 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Throughout the year, members of these affiliates gather for memorable conventions in their state. In this blog post, we hear from Matthew Gip and his experience attending his first state convention in California.

Earlier this month on November 2-5, I attended my very first state convention in my home state of California. I started off the day by taking the Amtrak train for the very first time. It was a phenomenal experience and the ride was very smooth, but something happened… I ended up missing my stop at Stockton, where I was supposed to get off to meet the Northern California bus with other convention attendees to get to the hotel. The conductor apologized for not letting me know when to get off, but needless to say, with the training I learned and gained from BLIND, Inc., I was able to locate where I was and I got off a couple of stops later and took an Uber to the hotel. I ended up arriving before everyone.

This was truly a historic and memorable convention for me. I am proud to announce that I was one of the state scholarship finalists, as well as being elected as the new student division president of CABS, the California student division. I am honored and humbled to be in this leadership role and I hope to set an example and be an asset for students. I would like to give a special thank you to the immediate past student president, Carla Scroggins, President Ever Lee Hairston, and President Kathryn Webster for all the support and continuing to mentor me as I go through this new transition. There was so much love, energy, and passion at convention and I loved every single moment of it. We had an awesome national rep, NFB of Colorado President, Scott LaBarre, where he gave an outstanding and motivating speech about breaking down barriers for blind people and he also told us about his airport experience.

I would like to wrap up by saying how grateful I am to have attended this year’s state convention. I have learned so much, including advocacy, mentoring, leadership, and much more. I am truly honored to be a part of the Federation and to have my Federation family with me. I see a very bright future in not just our student division, but the entire affiliate. The main goal of the Federation is to increase membership and I am proud to say, if it wasn’t for the National Federation of the Blind, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.