I had my first tic at a birthday party when I was five. It was November 12, 2006, and if you look at the photos from that party, you’ll see that I was enthusiastically eating a red cupcake and had no idea how that day would change my life – also the frosting was all over my face, but that had nothing to do with the tics; I just really like cupcakes!

I was diagnosed with a tic disorder eight months later. The doctor explained that the tics could progress in a number of different ways, and that I was fortunate to be mild. It didn’t feel fortunate, but we understood what he was saying.

It was all facial at first, mostly with my eyes and lips. My mom still has the notes from my first appointment with the doctor. He was trying to get me to play with toys on the floor to break the ice. But I wasn’t having it. I quickly put down the toys and told him that my “brain is not doing the right things.” I demanded that he “shut my brain off to not be like that.” I guess a six-year-old wasn’t supposed to be saying these things, but I wanted to be in control. I think that’s the feeling that most people with tic disorders may feel the most of, a desire to be in control of something. Anything. Because we don’t always have that with our bodies.

In elementary school I had more symptoms. Some were embarrassing but others were just irritating, like when I had trouble reading because my eyes wouldn’t cooperate. Luckily none of of my tics were verbal. Most people had to be looking at me to actually know I was having a tic.

My tics faded in middle school just as my doctor said can happen for a lot of teens. But regardless of how my body acts today, my mind will never forget the lessons I learned from the experience of losing that sense of control. I want to help young children know that having a diagnosis doesn’t mean they have a limit on their achievement.

I plan to attend college so that I can make a difference in the lives of children who don’t yet have their voice in life, specifically bilingual children who may stutter, have delayed speech, are recovering from a brain injury, or are non-verbal due to autism or another disability. I intend to become a bilingual speech language pathologist (SLP), specializing in these disorders. There is a shortage in the SLP field, and only 5% of the current SLP population is bilingual, so the shortage is even more dire in the area of bilingual SLP.

If I receive your scholarship, it will reduce the amount of my student loans and help me to focus on picking the right job when I graduate, not having to worry about my salary.