Apostolos-Christos Lianos

I was diagnosed with Tourette syndrome at the age of nine and my life stopped being the same after that. I had to overcome a lot of obstacles to be where I am today. There were times I had to be fed because of motor tics that would make me drop everything from my hands. Other times I had to use a wheelchair because my legs were shaking and couldn’t walk. My life was threatened at times when my vocal tics were out of control. I have been judged, discriminated and yelled at several times during this phase of my life. I was told several times by different people, including classmates and even some family members that I should give up and stop pursuing my dream. I will never forget the moment when my middle school principal told my family that I had to be home schooled, isolate myself from my classmates, and later ask for disability benefits. I was told that I am not suitable to become a lawyer because of my Tourette’s and that College is not the right path for me. I was devastated but I never gave up. I never stopped pursuing my dream.

My family fought very hard to establish my legal rights as a US student within the public-school system, so I could have the same opportunities as the other students. They had to employ a law firm specialized in individuals with disabilities, so that my school would implement an IEP (Individualized Educational Program) and accommodate my educational needs. The “fight” was not easy, but the end was successful. I was able to remain at school where I was provided with the right accommodations described under my IEP that helped me succeed. In several occasions I attended school over Skype so that my condition wouldn’t affect the rest of my class. These personal experiences became my drive to pursue the dream of becoming a lawyer. I am especially interested in helping kids with special needs. This way I will be able to apply all my knowledge on helping them so that they would never feel alone, unprotected and discriminated and feel like they have a goal worth aiming for.

All the struggles I went through over the past twelve years were instrumental in my growth and made me a stronger person. The experience of physical and emotional pain helped me have more sympathy and empathy for people with disabilities. It also helped me develop my strong goal to help other people in need. I am currently a sophomore at Carroll University majoring in Criminal Justice. My goal is to go to Law school and become an attorney for kids with special needs. I managed to receive a number of prestigious awards/scholarships during the first two years of college for academic excellence and my volunteer work, a fact that gave me even more confidence and strength to fulfill my future dream. Now, I strongly believe that I can face every challenge that comes to my life, and although it’s not an easy path I am positive and committed to success.