I cringed my teeth as my teacher sat in the front of the classroom, eager to call on the next student to read the following paragraph in the Hiding Place.

I placed my head on the table, rehearsing what I was going to say if I was called on: “May I go to bathroom? I am not feeling well; may I go to the nurse?” As I began to sit up to ask to be excused, my name was called out to read next. Frustrated, I scrambled to get to the correct page. I hated to read, and not just because it was time consuming; it was because I could not read. I do not know how I made it through my seven years of education without being about to pronounce the basic sight words. The next words came out of my mouth change my life….

“I-I-I-t w-w-w-a-s-s 1898 and I w-w-a-a-s-s six your-r-s eld. Bes-th-ie slo-od me in fr-oo-t of the w-el-ll-r- drop-e mir-r-ror and ga-f-e me a lec-th-ure.” I said.

As the words mumbled out of my mouth, I began to melt down inside. I threw my head on the table, closed my eyes, and cried. The teacher just called on the next student to resume from where I left off. Seventh grade was the year I learned that I needed to work harder to succeed.

I was an average student.

Because I was diagnosed with dyslexia and a cognitive impediment, I was different than my peers. Those words meant nothing to me at the moment. I was encouraged by many of my teachers to keep doing my very best. I had this idea in my mind that if I just get passing grades then that was good enough. However, I learned a few years later that I did not just want to get by with being “good enough.” It was the first time ever I saw potential in myself.

In my high school years, I was driven to make others proud of me. The extra hours I spent on my homework and studying for tests really paid off. I would explain to my mom the goals I had set for the new semester, and encouraging words would flow from her mouth. Although I was still reading at a very slow pace, my eyes were set on my ultimate goal: to be a college student.

Two- thousand and fourteen was the year; I was going to reach that goal. I proudly walked down the aisle at commencement with my cap and gown on. Around my neck hung my red and gold cords that moved back and forth as I approached the stage. I stood with my graduating class facing all our friends and family who came to support us on this day. As the thought ran through my head, I was very nervous because as I looked back at the seventh grade student and I had come so far; I made it. I did more than “good enough.” I walked up to the podium and began to speak. I was asked to give a graduation speech so I started by saying…

“If I can just take a moment and go back ten years. I was a little second grade girl, tall and very talkative. Like any other kid I was excited to go to school, play with my friends and play on the playground but when it came to academics my whole attitude changed. I was frustrated and upset, if the subject didn’t have numbers in it I didn’t want to be involved. Phonics never stuck with me, I had a very hard time remembering the simple site words. When the kids beside me would speed through their books and I was still on page two I was heartbroken, because I knew I was different.

I didn’t want to work hard, lazy was my middle name.

It was easier for me to be told what the answer was than taking time to figure it out by myself. I look back and I am so glad I am not the person I was ten years ago. My mom pushed me. She told me I could do it. She had faith in my when I didn’t have faith in myself. Her choice by sending me to Dayton Christian was one of the best choices she has made.” (For the full graduation speech click here)

For ten minutes I continued to share about my educational experience and how the people in my life influenced me. There encouragement helped me to see that I am intelligent and I can accomplish my dreams. I am pursuing a high level of education and have looked beyond the disability that once stop me and that now enables me to chase my dreams. I believe that anyone with a disability can chase there dream also.