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The Life of a Person With a Learning Disability Who Supposedly Wasn't 'College Material'

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I am a person with a learning disability and a language impairment. Diagnosed at the age of 3, I am the only one in my family with a disability, and I received special education services throughout my school career. My goal in life is to support people with disabilities in gaining independence and becoming as successful as they can be— just like me.

My areas of weakness are reading comprehension and written expression, as well as mathematics. After high school, I wasn’t expected to go on to college to earn a bachelor’s degree ­­or even an associate degree. In high school I was advised by a counselor to go into child care because I was not “college material.” My high school counselor and those who followed obviously did not know who they were dealing with!

My college education started right after high school, and I spent the next 12 years working toward a Bachelor of Science degree in the area of Rehabilitation Services Independent Living Track (supporting people with disabilities in the community). I started my educational journey by attending St. Louis Community College —Meramec, where I received an Associate Degree in Early Childhood Education. I then decided to further my education and take classes that would transfer to a four-year university.

woman with a learning disability at graduationI had many people tell me I should quit school because they did not think I could handle it. I showed them how determined I was to obtain my Bachelor’s degree by graduating in 2011! I chose to obtain a degree in the field of Rehabilitation Services because I belong to a unique social group. This group has evolved over the past 15 years. The eleven members of our close­-knit group are unique because all of us experience a mental, physical, or educational disability.

I am proud of the person I am today. Looking back, I see many factors had an impact on me as I worked to achieve my Bachelor of Science Degree in Rehabilitation Services. Most people I met along the way, especially those experiencing their own difficulties, influenced me in a positive way. My self- advocacy skills have grown over the years. Today I have the confidence to set high goals, and I know I can be successful. I have become more skilled at supporting my students and clients as they set goals, work toward their goals, and learn to advocate for themselves. I am grateful every day to be doing

Originally published: August 31, 2016
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