We recently sat down with Pi Alpha, JP Aspinwall to discuss why he gives to The Ability Experience and why he is a 77 Society donor. He had a lot to share about why he gives and stays connected with the work of The Ability Experience and Pi Kappa Phi.
When we talked, JP shared a personal “Journey of Hope moment” with us that made a big impact on his life. While cycling back in 2012 he had a friendship visit in Milwaukee, WI that changed his life – read more below about how a girl named Katie changed how he sees people with disabilities and how the world sees them.
Hi JP! Tell us a little about yourself.
JP: Hi, I’m JP Aspinwall. I’m from Atlanta, GA and have lived in Boston since graduating from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2014. For the last five years, I’ve worked for Liberty Mutual Insurance where I’m a Claims Operations Strategy Consultant. After work, I’m either in class for my MBA at Boston University or at home with my girlfriend and our fur baby Teddy, a mini-Australian Shephard.
Fun Fact: I’m a big disc golfer and obsessed fisherman.
What Ability Experience summer event(s) did you participate in and the year?
JP: Journey of Hope (North) 2012
What has changed about yourself since you became a Pi Alpha and completed Journey of Hope?
JP: I am always looking for opportunities to stay involved with the community that The Ability Experience champions.
How has your involvement with The Ability Experience benefited you or your community in terms of increasing quality of life or satisfaction?
JP: I am happier when I get to do something that is not self-serving, and my community is stronger when positive relationships are formed across all arrays of differences that we may perceive to divide us.
What has been your most meaningful experience with The Ability Experience?
JP: At a friendship visit in Milwaukee I had my “this is my Journey of Hope” moment. It happened when I got to know a girl named Katie. Katie and her older sister have an extremely rare medical condition that prevented them from being able to form speech and control the majority of their motor functions.
In two short days, Katie and I formed a bond and made memories that will live with me forever! These are memories that make me both deeply sad and incredibly hopeful.
The sadness comes from intensely knowing how intelligent, funny and beautiful Katie is, and how easily some people will miss it because their perspective shields them from seeing it. I am indestructibly hopeful because the strength of Katie and her family is a beacon of light to their community which makes the mission of The Ability Experience possible.
Through their example, I will always be able to see and appreciate people for who they are and will be forever be inspired to pass on the values of the Ability Experience to others.
What motivates you to give back?
JP: I want the experience I had back in 2012 to be recreated every year. I want college guys to become men and leaders that reshape their worlds for decades to come and I want the communities and people we reach to feel our love and support to keep growing.
The positive effects don’t just trickle down, they snowball.
Please tell us about any specific success that your involvement with The Ability Experience helped you achieve, and how.
JP: In my final interview for my original role with Liberty Mutual I was asked a tough personal question. I believe that I got the job because I was able to demonstrate my true character and work ethic – pulling directly from my Journey of Hope Experience.
How would you recommend new participants make the most of their summer leadership program experience?
JP: Forget about being cool or whatever superfluous things you think make you happy or comfortable, and focus on the people you meet and learn everything you can about them.
Finish this sentence. “Were it not for The Ability Experience, I would have never…”
JP: Were it not for The Ability Experience, I would have never met Katie.