Never Give Up!

Sometimes life can throw you a curve ball and things don’t seem quite fair.  You see, I was born to young parents that were experimenting with drugs and alcohol – I started out life with learning problems that didn’t completely show up until later down the road. Thankfully, my grandpa rescued me from this situation and took me home to raise me.  When I was in preschool the teachers were already showing concern about my ability to learn letters and numbers.  By the time I was ready to start Kindergarten, my grandpa had passed away unexpectedly so his wife continued to raise me and later adopted me.  I struggled all through Kindergarten and my mom started searching for answers to help me.  It was decided that I qualified for an IEP in school, but my mom felt that there was something else that was wrong – my eyesight.  It was discovered that I had sustained severe head trauma at a very early age and that my brain and left eye did not communicate.  I was seeing everything twice.  Reading and coloring were not my favorite things to do.  I started eye therapy two times a week and, after 8-1/2 years, I was told that I had “graduated” to just yearly check-ups.  

Middle school was a rough time for me.  Kids were not always kind and words leave a lasting impression.  My mom was told by several resource teachers that I would probably never graduate with a regular diploma.  I was not college material and that I would probably always need help.   We were also told by Vanderbilt that I would probably never be able to drive. Thankfully, my mom listened politely but did not believe what they were saying.  I continued to see tutors weekly and learned to be diligent with my studies.  Even bath time was a learning session using soap crayons to study spelling and math problems.   Everything in our home became a lesson.  

High School brought new challenges – I was now responsible for earning credits and taking exams.   The students, however, were much kinder and even supportive.  I was blessed with good teachers that were willing to push me to the next level.  After much hard work and extra classes, I was able to obtain my driver’s license and, I’m proud to say, I am a great driver!  I was encouraged to be my own advocate and to make my own decisions regarding school and my future.   In my senior year I discussed my IEP with my case manager and it was decided that I could move from an IEP to a 504 plan.  My pathway in high school has been Healthcare.  My goal is to complete my CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) program during the summer months following my graduation.  I then plan to attend TCAT in the fall to obtain my LPN.  I can think of nothing more satisfying that to spend my life helping others.   If there is anything that I’ve learned from all of this it is that we all can overcome.  Oh, by the way, I will be graduating with a regular diploma – with distinction (I placed 3rd in the State of Tennessee in a HOSA competition) - I can’t take all the credit for my successes…  I have had lots of prayers, a determined mom, great teachers and lots of friends and family that have encouraged me along the way.

What I would want others to learn from this is that you should Never Say Never!  All things are possible!  You listen politely to what professionals have to say but then you focus on what you know is true.  Life is not always fair, but you can take those things that were meant to mess you up and use them to your own advantage.  I am proud to say that I will be the first one from my birth family that will walk across a stage and receive a diploma and I will be the first one to continue my education after graduation.   I can’t wait to see what God has planned next!