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Rachel Origer - 2008 Anne Ford Scholarship Runner-Up


2008 Anne Ford Scholarship Runner-Up

Rachel Origer has struggled with learning since the first grade when her reading disabilities were first identified. As she reflects upon years of frustration, feelings of self-doubt and incredibly hard work, Rachel recalls never allowing herself to "give up" and with support from her family and school personnel, being "determined to find a way" to work around her learning disability. While in school, she has been able to hold a steady job, is president of the Family, Career, Community Leaders of America Organization, and is an active member of several clubs, including the National Honor Society, Environmental Club, and a mentoring program called Peer Assisted Leadership. She dreams of entering the field of special education, so that she can "make a difference in every student's life, and give them the confidence that they can achieve their goals." 

Below is the essay Rachel submitted with her application for the Anne Ford Scholarship.

My transcript may tell you that I have taken advanced classes throughout high school, and that I have maintained a 4.0 GPA, but what it fails to tell you is how I got there.

In the first grade it was determined that I had dyslexia. Upon hearing this, many people may think of this as a major deterrent, but I was by no means going to let this stand in my way. I must admit that working with my dyslexia was not always easy. When learning new concepts, it takes me longer to grasp the information. At times, it was frustrating when I could not recognize information that I had just learned. It was discouraging to see that I did not work at the same pace as my peers. I remember feeling self-conscious because I was always the last one to turn in my work. Since I was usually the last one done, I felt as if everyone was staring and waiting for me to finish; it made me feel as if everyone thought I was unintelligent. I made a full time commitment to explore different study habits that would enable me to fully understand the material. I put in the extra effort not only by studying independently, but by attending numerous tutoring sessions. My parents and teachers were also there to assist me in whatever way I needed help. With eleven years of hard work, I have managed to be number 40 out of 686 students in my graduating class. Rather than being discouraged and giving up, I was determined to find a way that I could work with my dyslexia.

I have a passion to teach. This passion is influenced by my dyslexia and the things that I have learned from it. I want to encourage each student to keep trying no matter how hard the work may be. I want them to know that it is worth going through all the struggles and frustrations; they will learn so much more if they are able to find ways that they can work with their disabilities. I have taken courses in high school that have allowed me to test the waters of teaching, and I cannot picture myself doing anything else. I enjoy creating new learning techniques that will help students retain what they learn; it brings great satisfaction to know that I am able to pass on my studying techniques to them. It is rewarding to know that I could potentially have an impact on hundreds of childrens' lives.

I dream of entering the field of special education. My sophomore year, I had the opportunity to be a peer tutor for the handicapped. Each tutor was given a specific student to work with the whole year; I had the privilege of working with a young boy named Ben. I was there to assist him in his criminal justice class, which was an elective that was not modified to his specific needs. Ben was accustomed to a special education classroom and the assistance it provides. As a peer tutor, I was there to provide him with the support and encouragement he needed to successfully complete the course. I found that working with special needs students requires patience and innovative teaching methods. For some, this may be challenging and stressful, but I discovered that this is an area of teaching in which I would excel. Having a learning disability of my own, I know the frustrations that come with it; I wish to provide them with the motivation that they can accomplish anything that they put their mind to.

There are goals that I have set to achieve as a future special education teacher. My primary goal is to make a difference in every student's life and give them the confidence that they can achieve their goals. I wish to encourage them to take on new challenges and learn new things. Through motivation and support, I want to be able to teach my students that they can overcome any obstacle that they put their mind to. Another goal that I wish to accomplish as a special education teacher is to focus on each child's disability and show them how to work with it. I was fortunate to have the assistance of my teachers and parents to help me discover how I could work with my dyslexia. I want to take what I have learned and experienced and incorporate it into what I teach.

I am fortunate to now have the opportunity to advance to a higher level of education, and become a step closer to achieving my dreams. This is an extraordinary accomplishment for me, considering that I will be the first one in my family to obtain a college degree, and that I have dealt with a learning disability.