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. I have been judged, discriminated, and yelled at several times during this phase of my life because of something I could not control. 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. That I should isolate myself and be home schooled, and later ask for disability benefits. I was told that I am not suitable to become an advocate because of my Tourette’s and that College is not the right path for me. 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 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 that helped me succeed. These personal experiences became my drive to pursue the dream of becoming an advocate. 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.

In 2019 I got accepted by Tourette Association of America to become a Rising Leader and Ambassador, representing the state of Wisconsin. After my training, I started giving public speeches to several places, trying to raise awareness and educate people about TS.

This scholarship would mean the world to me, not just financially but emotionally as well.  All these years, I have learned what it’s like to go through struggles in order to succeed. Since I stopped seeing Tourette’s as a disability, but instead as a challenge and a reason to fight, I realized I can pursue my future goals and become a successful member of our society. This would not be possible without the unconditional love and support of my family. Now, I want to apply all my experiences to making other people’s life better. I could also give an example to individuals with disabilities that they can be successful and they should never give up their dreams. This scholarship could be the means to achieve this purpose. It would empower me and ultimately contribute to a better future.

I believe that getting my master’s degree in Adult, Community, and Professional Education will help me become a better and successful person in my community. I want to help people who struggle with their disability and give them a sense of belonging in our society.