[G]rowing up illiterate was one of the biggest challenges I had to overcome. In elementary school, dyslexia had crippled my reading skills and made simple math problems impossible to solve. Sounding out words was unhelpful and having teachers read to me was pointless. I was held back a year and placed in special education to get the extra help I needed to improve my reading skills. But I learned quickly that the system was flawed and the extra “help” entailed playing mindless computer games, being told the answers to questions by instructors and being given low standards to strive for in class.
I really did want to learn how to read, but I never had anyone at home to teach me—my mother worked three jobs and my grandparents did not know how to read in English—and I knew none of the options presented to me at school would help me learn to read. At age nine I asked my mother if she would buy Hooked on Phonics for me even though it was expensive for her at the time. One day after coming home from school I saw all five volumes stacked on the coffee table all shiny and new. I decided to complete the program and join my original class once again and be at grade level in all subjects and most importantly never get held back again, all goals I eventually completed.
For eighth grade I transferred to Cross middle school, on the first day I sat in my mother’s car and she said to me, “Remember you’re going to a white school now. You may have been the highest at Roskruge, but here you probably have to start at the bottom again.” Unlike my mother I had a different attitude, I decided that even though I had a learning disability, I was not going to let it define me and so I went on to graduate early from special education and graduate from high school with three AP classes under my belt.
After high school I enrolled at Pima Community College and became a Phi Theta Kappa with a 3.5 GPA. In the spring of 2013 I transferred to the University of Arizona and was admitted into their Honors College. Grappling with dyslexia and getting a six year late start on reading and writing has posed a challenging obstacle for me for the past eight years, especially in college, always having to do twice the amount of work and study twice the amount time than most students to understand difficult concepts in class. But after being placed in special education, I learned the most important lesson of all and that is that no obstacle is insurmountable, through hard work and perseverance you can create your own opportunities.
The reason why I chose a major in psychology is because I want to help clients work through their problems and present them with the necessary steps towards recovery. Also to show a complete stranger compassion by listening to them is a very rewarding feeling. Of course earning a degree in psychology will mean a lot to me because graduating from college is something that no one in my family has ever done before, and it feels good to know that I’m one step closer to helping others overcome their personal struggles.
We are proud to announce Eliza Escobedo is one of the current LatPro Scholarship finalists. Vote for her essay (Facebook ‘Like’ and other social media sharing options in left column), click the ‘star’ just above comments section below, and/or leave comments of support to help us with the selection process.