Aaron Oleson

Aaron Oleson

Growing up with Tourette’s syndrome, my life has been far from easy. I couldn’t focus in class. I was always stressed—even when there wasn’t a valid reason for it. I wasn’t able to think about anything except the pain that I was causing myself. Nobody knew what was happening to me, though, because everyone’s tics are different. Mine make me bite my cheek until it bleeds and rub my fingers together until they get blisters and whip my head up and down until my neck is too stiff to move. I use trials like these in my life as motivators to drive me to follow my dreams, not as obstacles.

When I was in fourth grade, my dad lost his job and my family was left in a state of limbo for five years. Although at the time I didn’t understand why it had to happen, I now realize that those years were integral to molding me into who I am today.

My dad took temporary work away from home, only coming home on the weekends. I was the man of the house at age ten, and it was driving me insane. I couldn’t make friends at school because it would be soon—or so we thought—that we would be moving. How could I find balance between living my life at school and keeping my family together at home?

If only I had known then what I now have ingrained into my brain: that everything works together for our good if we let it. If only I had known to take action, to choose to live life. Now I know to use my past experiences as a springboard to push me to reach my full potential. Since then, I have achieved several of my goals, including becoming an Eagle Scout. Watching myself fulfill goals has shown me that my trials won’t get in the way of my future.

I have always known that I want to pursue math and science. At first I didn’t know exactly what I liked best, but I knew that it would be important to put in as much effort as I could to be the best. In middle school, I pushed myself to go above and beyond in order to be on track to take accelerated math courses in high school. After taking Calculus my Junior year, my high school did not offer anything higher. Alternatively, I enrolled in Differential Equations at the local community college so that I could continue to progress towards my goal of getting a B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering. I understand that to achieve that end will push me in many areas of my personal life—academic, mental, emotional, and financial. Thankfully, I was able to realize early on in my life that approaching challenges as obstacles yields no benefits. Instead, it is infinitely more beneficial to view trials as motivation.