Hi, my name is Courtney! I am 21 years old and from Raleigh, North Carolina. I am currently in my senior year at East Carolina University, where I am majoring in Communications with a concentration in public relations and minor in English. One day I hope to work with a non-profit organization or public relations firm. My personal learning differences are dyslexia with a processing disorder.
Growing up with a learning difference affected me in a variety of ways, both positively and negatively. The one thing I’ve learned, and continue to learn daily, is that it only affects you as much as you let it. Around first and second grade, when most children experience the excitement of learning to read, I only remember feelings of embarrassment and frustration. Day after day, my mom would sit with me during reading assignments while I sounded out every word, taking much longer than most first and second graders needed. One day, after multiple tests and interviews, I learned I had dyslexia coupled with a processing disorder.
This was something that I was very private, and even embarrassed, about until after I graduated from high school. I never wanted to seem different or dumb around others, so I never allowed myself to use my learning difference as an excuse. Throughout elementary and middle school my parents and tutors aided considerably in my academic success. In high school I would often go after class to spend extra time and review with teachers. Guidance counselors even advised me not to take honors or advanced placement courses because of my learning difference. However, I chose to try and was successful in all of them. I have several brothers and sisters, but my parents never made me feel any different or less capable than my other siblings. They just emphasized that I learned things differently and in a more unique way.
While I had a strong support system in high school, college was a concern. I assumed professors would be different from what I had experienced in public school so far. When I began my search for schools, East Carolina continuously came up, not only for Project STEPP, but also due to its location, size, and all-around college experience.
Now that I’ve been here over three years, I know this is the place for me. I am thankful daily that I ended up here. Also, while being a student at East Carolina, I have had the pleasure of being involved with the Pirate Tutoring Center, Project Eye-to-Eye, Residential Scholars, working for the undergraduate admissions office and other opportunities around campus. I am currently the Membership Education VP of Alpha Delta Pi Sorority, an Alumni Association Scholar, Project STEPP office assistant, and a volunteer with various organizations. Living with a learning difference can be challenging. But at the end of the day, working hard and self-advocating can compensate for those academic differences.