Author, Motivational Speaker to Address disAbility Conference at Scranton

Aug 30, 2012

Anthony Aquan-Assee, who acquired a traumatic brain injury in a motorcycle accident and recovered function against the odds to become a teacher, author and motivational speaker, is the evening keynote presenter during 11th Annual Northeastern U.S. Conference on disABILITY.

The conference, which will be held on Thursday, Sept. 27, on The University of Scranton campus in the Patrick and Margaret DeNaples Center, is hosted by the university’s Panuska College of Professional Studies with the support of the Edward R. Leahy, Jr. Endowment. 

This is the 11th year that The University of Scranton has sponsored the disABILITY conference for agencies, organizations, colleges and universities in the northeast United States. The theme for the 2012 Conference on disability is “Traumatic Brain Injury:  A meeting of the minds, The person, The people in their lives, and The professionals.”

Aquan-Assee embodies the spirit of the conference, which will focus on rehabilitation and recovery from traumatic brain injury (TBI), a leading cause of disability in the United States with an estimated 1.5 million new incidents each year. During his presentation titled “Starting Over: 2nd Life, 2nd Chance,” Aquan-Assee will tell his inspirational story of resilience and determination.

Following his accident, Aquan-Assee was in a coma for two weeks and was not expected to live. However, his persistence and determination led him to not only recover, but to earn a Master of Education in Applied Cognitive Science from the University of Toronto. His story of recovery was featured in Reader's Digest in 2002.

Aquan-Assee is a recipient of The Courage to Come Back Award from The Centre for Addictions and Mental Health in Toronto, where he resides. He is the author of “Second Life, Second Chance: A Teacher’s Chronicle of Despair,” “Recovery and Triumph,” winner of an Eric Hoffer Award for independent authors; “Starting Over: A Survivor’s Guide;” and fantasy novel, “Vendeka’s Creed.”

The opening keynote of the conference features Susan H. Connors, president and CEO of the Brain Injury Association of America. Connors is the former executive director of the National Association of State Head Injury Administrators. 

She has served in advisory capacities and on expert panels for federal agencies, universities and nonprofit organizations. Connors, a tireless advocate for individuals with TBI, also has numerous publications to her credit.

In addition to the acclaimed keynote speakers, the 2012 conference features sessions led by state and nationally recognized leaders in the TBI field. The sessions provide information on evidence-based treatment modalities, elements of effective partnerships, descriptions of successful programs, projects and activities and personal accounts of interacting successfully with a multifaceted and interdisciplinary delivery system. 

Continuing education units will be available for certification and licensure in the counseling, human resources, education, coaching and allied health professions. Registration is required to attend the conference, however, Aquan-Assee’s presentation at 4:30 p.m. is open to the public, free of charge.

Additional information about the conference can be found at by emailing the conference co-chairs, Lori Bruch, Ed.D, (, associate professor of counseling and human services, or Sandra Lamanna, (, faculty specialist, education.
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