Jeremiah Zimmerman

My symptoms were magnified during my preteen years. I made random high-pitched noises, blinked excessively, and jerked my head up and down. Kids my age at the time were generally uninformed, making it hard for me to be accepted. I have attended many games for the independent professional baseball team in my hometown. During my childhood, I commonly attended weeknight games so that I wouldn’t have to be around many other kids.

One specific time, I was sitting in the general admission grass berm area. There was a group of kids there running around while I was sitting down watching the game. Subconsciously, I was making high-pitched noises between every pitch. The group of kids noticed and they started mocking me. When I would make a noise, they would make a noise. After awhile, they stood in front of me and yelled at me to stop screeching. I tried to explain to them that I couldn’t stop, but they would not listen. I moved and sat somewhere else to finish watching the game. This is how most of my encounters with other kids went during a long period of my life. It was difficult enough to make friends, but I also worked slowly when it came to academics. A simple five-minute task for most always seemed like a 45-minute punishment for me. I read slower, I wrote slower, and I processed problems and solutions slower. If others were making any noise, concentrating on the task at hand seemed impossible. It felt like a curse.

This curse has also been a blessing in disguise. After home schooling my whole life, I enrolled part-time at a public school my freshman year of high school. After so many grueling mornings surrounded by thousands of kids and late nights just trying to get homework done on time, I have become so much better at focusing on the task at hand. In fact, my ability to focus on what is needed has become what I’m most known for. Is it still difficult at times? Absolutely it is. Life is not easy, but having Tourette’s has been a teaching tool for me to overcome everyday obstacles. It’s often said that hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard. I am living proof of that. I will be attending Dakota State University in the fall to play baseball and pursue an Exercise Science degree. Having Tourette’s has been difficult, but also rewarding. I have overcome physical, mental, and social obstacles. Pursuing a degree, with the help of this scholarship, will help me continue to meet goals for my future.