My name is Daniel , I am 22 years old, and was born and raised in Charlotte, North Carolina. I was diagnosed with slow processing speed in my sophomore year of high school. I am currently in my senior year at East Carolina University, pursuing a major in Recreation and Leisure Studies. I want to do something related to outdoor recreation, because I love being outdoors and discovering new ways to enjoy what nature has to offer. I want to help others discover whatever passion they may have for the outdoors.
School wasn’t too much trouble for me until I reached middle school. I had a particularly hard time in math, trying to understand pre-algebraic concepts and applying them to equations. I never suspected I had a learning difference back then, I simply felt I wasn’t as smart as everyone else. Seeing everyone surpass me in math gave me a feeling of inferiority that wasn’t good for my self-esteem. I continued to struggle in algebra throughout middle school and into high school. It was during my high school sophomore year, when I was doing poorly in the majority of my courses, that I had all but given up on trying to get good grades. I had come to the conclusion that I was not very smart and that I would have bad grades regardless of how hard I tried. My parents decided to take me to a psychologist for an IQ test and general evaluation. It was then that we learned about my slow processing speed. I had a very high IQ, but the slow processing speed slowed all my learning down, which is part of the reason I was doing so poorly in my courses.
This was a huge turning point in my life. I no longer felt like the dumb kid in class and wasn’t so stressed about my grades. Most of my teachers were teaching at a fast pace, and I didn’t have time to understand what they were teaching before they moved on. I needed specialized instruction that I just wasn’t getting at my school. My parents started looking around Charlotte for schools that would be a good fit for me, and we eventually settled on The Fletcher School. The Fletcher School is completely focused on instructing students with learning difference (LD), and has a teaching staff trained to instruct students using various approaches to learning. My junior and senior years at The Fletcher School were amazing. I even earned a 4.0 GPA my first year. It didn’t feel like I had done much work or even tried that hard, but looking back I know I had. It was the fact that I was actually enjoying school that made it seem effortless. The teachers were great and made learning easy, interactive, and even fun. That in turn made me eager to do homework and succeed in my classes.
The Fletcher School helped me learn about East Carolina University and Project STEPP. This is the biggest reason that I ended up attending college here. Project STEPP is a program at ECU devoted to helping students with learning differences transition from high school to college smoothly, as well as keeping them on track all the way through graduation. They accept ten students into the program every year and are most active in our college life for the first year and a half. They make numerous resources available to us, including free tutoring in some classes, one-on-one mentoring, and a study area in the library.
Project STEPP has helped me in all aspects of my college career, both with my difficulties inside the classroom and out. I wouldn’t be standing where I am today without their help. I am glad to be a part of their program and am looking forward to the rest of my time at ECU. Now I want to take what I have learned to help other college freshmen with LDs do just as well.