“I may have struggled and continue to face challenges at times with my dyslexia, but I have not let it limit my success.”
Joe Hendrix, a May 2018 graduate of Redwater High School, earned the rank of Eagle Scout by creating and launching a dyslexia advocacy program, Navigating Dyslexia, in partnership with the Literacy Council of Bowie and Miller Counties. Having dyslexia has not kept Joe from completing more than 30 dual-credit college hours, achieving a multitude of academic, athletic and extracurricular honors, including membership to the National Honor Society, and graduating in the top 10 percent of his class.
Joe continues to serve his school and community through leadership positions in his school’s Student Council and Key Club. In addition to a busy schedule of activities including varsity football, basketball, and tennis, Joe makes sure that time spent with his younger brother is a priority. A small town boy at heart, Joe is looking forward to beginning his studies at the University of North Texas in the area of Geographic Information Science.
Joe Hendrix – Personal Statement
The shirt I wanted to buy on a summer vacation when I was 10 years old read: ‘Dyslexics Are Teople Poo.” I had a good laugh with my parents, but they didn’t buy it for me. Talking about dyslexia has become less embarrassing as I have gotten older. However, I did feel isolated among my peers in elementary school as most of them had no difficulty reading. And to my disbelief some even said they loved to read.
My parents noticed in kindergarten that I easily confused the letters ‘d’ and ‘b,’ and directions right and left. Over the next couple of years, they also noticed that I had little interest in wanting to learn to read. Of course, I started learning to read, but was never a confident reader. I started dyslexia tutoring in school in 3rd grade. Unfortunately, the one subject that I was most interested in, Social Studies, was the class that I had to miss for 3 years while I attended my dyslexia tutoring. A few of my peers were also in this class, so we became close during that time. It was reassuring to know that I wasn’t the only one struggling with dyslexia.
My reading was slow. In the middle of learning to sound out words, putting sentences together and trying to comprehend what I had read, along came Accelerated Reader (AR) points. This made reading more miserable for me. It created a lot of frustration, tears, and late nights of homework for me and my parents. I was held to the same standard as my peers to read the same amount each grading term to receive a grade of 100. This grade counted more than once for the six weeks, which doubled my anxiety. I always read my 10 points to get my 100, but not one point more. Some of my peers were reading three times the number of points required and earning special recognition. Although I excelled in other subjects, the recognition didn’t seem as important as being a top AR point earner.
After volunteering at my local literacy council, I learned that most clients seeking help from the council were learning to read or write for the first time, or needed help finishing their GED. The council’s client age ranges from high school to adult. It made me wonder how many of the clients had undiagnosed dyslexia. Was this the reason they had not succeeded in school? I was fortunate enough to receive early intervention with my dyslexia. However, a friend that was a grade ahead of me was not. He did not find out he was dyslexic until the spring semester of his senior year.
As I spent more time at the literacy council I learned it would soon partner with the local police department’s after-school program. This would allow students participating in the after-school program to receive tutoring from literacy council volunteers. I decided that I would incorporate my idea of giving back to my community by making dyslexia awareness the platform of my Eagle Scout Project. The quote, “See a need, fill a need” is from one of my favorite childhood movies, Robots. I saw a need to bring awareness to dyslexia and would therefore do my part to fill this need. After collaborating with dyslexia experts, I created dyslexia information packets to be distributed to the parents of the 300 students that would attend this program. The packet contained basic dyslexia information and checklists that outlined signs of dyslexia, and who to contact at their child’s school for further assistance. In addition to the student folders I prepared a dyslexia resource book for the volunteer tutors to reference if there was an identified learning concern.
I may have struggled and continue to face challenges at times with my dyslexia, but I have not let it limit my success. I want other students and parents to have the opportunity to identify signs of dyslexia and seek assistance as early as possible so that learning can be enjoyable, and students can be confident and successful. I was also able to provide community outreach by organizing a ‘Navigating Dyslexia’ booth at a local literacy event in October (dyslexia awareness month) to raise awareness.
I have had principals, counselors and teachers who have met with me and my parents each year to review my strengths and weaknesses. These meetings were always positive and highlighted my accomplishments. Although accommodations were available I didn’t always have to use them and depended less on this over time. My English teachers have supported me and helped me improve my confidence in writing papers.
I was so excited when I received my acceptance letter to my first college choice. During my tour of this college I was impressed with the wide range of tutoring support available to its students. Further confirmation of having made the right college decision came when my mom was informed by a previous employee of this school that it is top-ranked in its dyslexia support.
I am grateful for the support I have received from my school and family and have had the opportunity to earn over 30 dual credit college hours in high school. This has made me eager to start my education on a college campus next fall. I have not let dyslexia limit my success and never will. My commitment to my education is priority. I have demonstrated dedication to earning the Eagle Scout rank while juggling multiple extracurricular activities, sports, volunteer work, leadership delegations while maintaining a 3.92 grade average. I will remain committed to my education and my community.
Being the recipient of the Anne Ford scholarship would be an honor, and I would use this money to pursue my education in forensic science studies. This would be a testament that perseverance is one of the many components of success.
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