2008 Anne Ford Scholarship Runner-UpRachel 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."
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.
Below is the essay Rachel submitted with her application for the Anne Ford Scholarship.
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.