Beautifully Different: One Future TECHniques Center Student’s Passion for Dyslexia Awareness
By Brandi Willis Schreiber
If you read the TECHniques Center blog, you know that our work focuses on supporting current students and tutors.
But what you may not know is that we work on developing relationships with prospective students long before they apply or are accepted to Texas Tech University. In fact, TECHniques Center staff frequently meet with prospective students and their families to talk about our program, why Texas Tech University, Student Disability Services, and the TECHniques Center could be a good fit, and what they need to know as they make the very personal and important decision about what college or university is right for them.
We love meeting with prospective students because we want them to feel like they are cared about even before they start the application process to Texas Tech University and our program. In return, we get the wonderful chance to meet some truly amazing students who inspire us with their tenacity, energy, and love for Texas Tech University and our program.
Abbie Seay is one such student.
I met Abbie in May 2016 when she visited our program with her family. Abbie is a lifelong Texas Tech fan, and over the summer months, her mom and I emailed back and forth about Abbie’s excitement about our university and her hope for getting into Tech.
“I tell everyone about [the TECHniques Center] and that it was one of the main reasons I wanted to go to Texas Tech,” Abbie said.
Abbie applied to Tech the minute the application opened, and then in September, I got the email I was waiting for:
“We are over the moon excited!! Answered prayers!! Thanks for your faith and confidence that this day would come!” her mother wrote me.
Shortly thereafter, Abbie completed the application process to our department and program.
During my emails with Abbie and her mom, it became apparent that Abbie was a very special student, indeed, who had an inspiring story that others could learn from.
“In kindergarten and first grade, no matter how hard I tried, I could not learn like the other kids in my class,” Abbie wrote me. “While they took their spelling tests, I used to sit at a table alone, pretending to read by looking at the pictures and wondering why I was being singled out. My self-esteem started to suffer and I began to cry myself to sleep at night not wanting to go to school.”
Soon Abbie was diagnosed with dyslexia and had the good fortune to attend a school for students who learn differently. “The school taught me in a way my brain was wired to learn,” Abbie said. “I worked very hard and learned grit and determination. Over the years, I learned effective study techniques, excellent study habits and most importantly to be an advocate for myself.”
Since then, Abbie has taken full ownership of her learning experiences. “I own my dyslexia and do my best to educate others. My learning difference is part of me but does not define or limit me. Throughout me life, when I’ve been told I could not do something or it would be hard, it made me more determined to do it, and to do it well.”
Abbie is so passionate about dyslexia that she created a whole Dyslexic Awareness Night as part of her Girl Scout Gold Award project at her school to help educate others. Below is a story that Abbie wrote about this experience. We are very honored to share it with you and to highlight this young woman, whom we look forward to seeing on campus next fall!
If you are a student who is thinking about attending Texas Tech University and want to visit our program or learn more, please give our office a call at (806) 742-1822 or contact firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll be happy to help you schedule a time to meet with staff, view our space, and answer your questions!
Beautifully Different: A Night to Learn
By Abbie Seay, incoming Fall 2017 Texas Tech University student
Most people think they have a good understanding of dyslexia. Actually, it is one of the most misunderstood learning differences. “Can you read? Can you read backwards? I had dyslexia once.” These are questions and comments that people who have been diagnosed with dyslexia normally get. Dyslexia affects the way the brain processes written and spoken language. No two dyslexics are the same because dyslexia ranges from mild to profound. It’s not uncommon for dyslexics to suffer from low self-esteem starting at an early age and, if not helped right away can cause a dyslexic person to be depressed. 50% of the youth in the juvenile detention system have dyslexia and 60% of adolescents in drug and alcohol rehabilitation have dyslexia. But, 50% of all NASA employees have dyslexia and 40% of self-made millionaires have dyslexia.
My school, The Briarwood School, is unique in that almost all students have dyslexia or some other learning difference like ADHD or ADD. Briarwood is only one of a handful of schools that specialize in teaching kids in the way they learn best. Students at Briarwood are out of the box thinkers and we need teachers to explain concepts in a unique way.
A Dyslexia Awareness Night in October gave many in the community a chance to learn about dyslexia. I was honored to develop the program as part of my Girl Scout Gold Award project. The evening consisted of a panel discussion, videos, personal testimonies, and a vibrant question and answer session. Professionals who have successfully addressed their dyslexia shared their journey. On the panel was The Briarwood’s Assistant Head of School, a diagnostician, a mother of a dyslexic child and an open water swimmer who has swam the Catalina Channel and the English Channel, and a physics and chemistry teacher who posts educational videos on his own YouTube Channel. Each shared his or her dyslexic journey. Their stories were sad, shocking, touching, funny, and motivating all at the same time. The audience was both informed and inspired.
A second panel of dyslexics, Briarwood Alumni, spoke. One is a professional photographer who has photographed sports personalities and famous celebrities, a Life Flight EMT, a Houston ISD teacher, an entrepreneur, a college student studying special education, and a PE teacher and sports coach. I have been interviewing and gathering their stories, and each will be highlighted in an upcoming book, Beautifully Different – Dyslexic Success Stories.
On this special night at The Briarwood School, many people left with a better understanding of this unique learning difference called dyslexia. A video of the evening can be seen at https://vimeo.com/190409468.