2017 Allegra Ford Thomas Scholarship Winner

Written by Charlotte Leche | 2 months ago

When I was young, I was terrified of being made fun of. I just wanted to be a “normal kid” who didn’t have to work around my ADHD. But in high school, my study skills helped me make progress and I discovered my love of hands-on learning.

Remarkable, well-balanced, optimistic, resilient… these are qualities used by Charlotte’s teachers and mentors to describe her. Diagnosed with ADHD in second grade, Charlotte searched for the right combination of study strategies and accommodations throughout her early school years. With access to read-aloud texts, reams of colored paper and an arsenal of highlighters, she charged through high school with a 504 plan at her side, honing self-advocacy skills along the way. Charlotte found that playing softball, volunteering, working at a restaurant and learning to play cello helped channel her energy and talents in productive ways. In December 2016, Charlotte volunteered as a dental assistant on a mission trip to provide dental care and education to underprivileged youth in Honduras. She has set her sights on studying dental hygiene at community college as a step toward becoming an orthodontist.

Charlotte Leche – Personal Statement

When I was in 2nd grade I had a hard time focusing on just one thing for a long time. That is when my parents discovered that I had ADHD. As I got older it got worse and affected my ability to learn. When I got to middle school and realized that I had to start taking tests that would actually count towards my grades, it finally hit me that I couldn’t stare at a computer screen or a white sheet of paper for a long period of time. I began playing softball for a community league and played the cello for the middle school orchestra. This helped me balance my ADHD. The school system offered me a 504 plan for individual testing, extra time, or different tools to help me learn. Throughout middle school I picked up skills such as using different colored paper while testing, using different colored flashcards to study, or color coordinating my notes to help me study.

I have trouble learning if a teacher stands at the front of the room with a PowerPoint and lectures the whole time. When that happens, I easily will zone out. As I got to high school my 504 plan followed me as my tests and quizzes got harder and my test scores were very low. I realized that my freshman year was going to be the most important year that I would have. Additionally, at the beginning of my freshman year my father passed away suddenly and I knew that I wanted to do well in school to make him proud of me.

As I got to high school I thought that having ADHD and a 504 plan was embarrassing. I wanted to be that “normal kid” so I didn’t apply any of my study strategies. But as the school year went by I realized I needed to use strategies to help me study. I continued to use flash cards and color coding notes to study. I also did extra credit assignments, and sought help from my teachers if I needed it. I began to realize it is okay be be different and I can compensate for my attention deficit. I am also hyperactive, and I balance it by volunteering, working a part-time job and serving as a manager for the girls basketball team at my school. This allows me to get my energy out.

At the end of 9th grade my mom took me to a career fair so I could begin to decide what I wanted to after I graduate. The thought of college scared me because of my problems with taking tests and my studying challenges. I discovered that I would like to get into dentistry. I had problems with my teeth since I was little. I didn’t get all of my baby teeth until I was 5 years old. In 10th grade I had to have braces. So dentistry excited me because I could help others. I got into a career technical program with my school district to study dental assisting and currently I am doing an internship with an orthodontist practice. I found that it is easy for me to watch dental practices and follow how to do things. I excel at hands on practices.

My goal after high school is to go to a community college to study dental hygiene. This way I don’t have to take the SAT or ACT, which would be difficult for me since I would have to sit for 2-4 hours taking a test. I will graduate as a certified dental assistant. My ultimate goal is to become an orthodontist. I am good at math and science, so I think I can do it, but I will have dental hygiene to fall back on.

It is my life dream to be an orthodontist, which means after the community college, I will have to transfer to a four year school to get a bachelor’s degree. The community college (Thomas Nelson, Williamsburg, VA) I plan to attend has an articulation agreement with Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA which will allow me to transfer. This scholarship will help me achieve the first step in my career plan.

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