I can still hear my high school counselor’s voice in my head: “You’re not college material—maybe you should look into the military.” As a senior in high school I failed almost all tests, which I later found was because of my dyslexia; cheating was a way to succeed and make it through the painful process of becoming educated. Although I knew deep down inside that my counselor was right, it seemed unprincipled to me, even then, to actually tell a student that he or she was not meant for college. As I left her office I promised myself that if I ever were to attend college, which she so assertively stated was never going to happen, I would be a teacher. I never wanted anyone to leave my classroom thinking they couldn’t achieve anything they dreamed.
After being in the military and then working in construction, it became obvious to me that the only way I could exit a life of poverty or avoid a physically demanding job was to educate myself. But when I thought about my educational history, it was disconcerting to think I may not have the aptitude to do so; but I tried to overcome those thoughts and registered myself into a local college.
I was frustrated while attending college because I was 22 years old when most students my age were graduating from a university or possibly going onto graduate school. When I showed up to the wrong school for my first class I wandered the halls for twenty minutes before I asked someone in admissions where the building of learning stood. I was chagrined to hear the response, which was, “That building is at our satellite school almost twenty miles from here.” I refused to let this get me down. I knew that a few years of sacrifice would translate into a lifetime of dividends, and it all started my freshman year of college.
Although it was years before I learned that I was dyslexic, I noticed that I found ways to adapt on my own. I struggled quite a bit those first few years of college but it was definitely for the best. Those were the years I understood that I could do anything no matter what obstacles were in my way. I am always asked if I could, would I choose to have my dyslexia corrected, and I always, without hesitation, say no. Dyslexia is a part of me that keeps me honest and forces me to think. I pity people who don’t have a friend to assist them like I do.
This I believe. As a teacher for 9 years now, I know someone with a learning disability can do anything. I also believe that perfection is a false reality; everybody has a disability, but some know what it is, while others ignore it and throw stones.
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