When I was diagnosed with Tourette’s Syndrome in the third grade, my life changed as I knew it. For a while, I felt like I was carrying an incredible weight on my shoulders 24/7, and would never get it off. Because I was constantly having tics and didn’t feel like I was in control of my body, Tourette seemed like a burden. I would go out in public and feel singled out because I was “different” than everyone else. This was incredibly challenging for me.
However, a few experiences changed my outlook on my Tourette entirely. I was able to apply to become a Tourette syndrome youth ambassador in 2012 and went through training in Washington D.C. I met with a U.S. Senator and a congressman to advocate for kids like me with Tourette syndrome and other disabilities. This experience changed my life and my outlook on Tourette entirely. I was able to come back to Missouri and visit schools across the state to advocate for students. I told my story and tried to spread an anti-bullying message that covered all children. I have also counseled and advocated for kids journeying with Tourette, trying to encourage and uplift them as much as I could. I’ve been all across the State, and it’s been one of the most encouraging and rewarding endeavors I’ve ever taken part in. I love being able to advocate for kids while trying to make the world a better place for everyone to live in.
These experiences inspired me in so many ways, but the biggest way is in my choice of career. My journey with Tourette inspired me to want to become a teacher. I want to help young kids feel comfortable at school and feel welcomed, just like my teachers and peers did for me. It is my goal to create an inclusive classroom where all my students feel accepted, respected, loved, and free to grow into young learners and achievers. I want to also pursue a master’s in Special Education because I want to learn how to better serve students with disabilities. With my experiences, I want to help them to recognize the fact that they can do anything they set their minds to in this world, regardless of their disability.
Over the years, I’ve stopped looking at Tourette as a burden, but rather a platform that has provided me the blessing of being able to make a positive impact on this world. I hope to continue to do that with the help of this scholarship in my educational pursuits.