When asked to tell my story of Tourette Syndrome, I instead tell my story with Tourette Syndrome. I call to attention this distinction because I feel the latter statement better embodies the sentiment of my life with this disorder. I am proud to assert that I have managed my Tourette’s throughout my life, and have routinely achieved the goals I set for myself despite my condition. I would even go as far as to say the extra challenges Tourette’s has added to my life have made me a more empathetic and well rounded individual. It has allowed me to gain an understanding of what it is like to face challenges brought about by disabilities, and I have developed a sincere gratitude for all of the talents with which I am blessed.
I have managed to earn numerous accolades and engage in a variety of service activities. I am the head of my class, a Ben Carson Scholar, a United States Senate Youth Program Pennsylvania Finalist, and a High School Academic Challenge National Competitor. Besides my academic achievements, I am very proud of my service work. I have volunteered at local elections, food drives, charity breakfasts, and the Wreaths Across America Program. I had a unique opportunity this past summer to work with the American Red Cross and arrange a blood drive through the Leaders Save Lives Program. In addition to this, I recently spent a week in Washington D.C. for Tourette Youth Ambassador Training. The Tourette Association of America trains young people who suffer from Tourette’s to be advocates for the disability through this program. I am excited to use what I’ve learned to spread awareness and education surrounding the condition.
I was not necessarily surprised when I received my diagnosis, as my mom – an ardent advocate – researched the disorder when I was very young and first started showing symptoms, and more or less diagnosed me. My neurologist years later only confirmed what we had previously suspected. I hope that my story of success and endurance can instill a strong belief in oneself of all young people diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome.