Is Not Enough When You Dream of Being Great
always knew that I wanted to do better than what was expected
of me. I know this because of a drive that was inside me that
was fueled by a fire - a burning desire to follow my dreams
and not someone else's.
a student in public school my academic performance ranged
from mediocre to failing. In activities that allowed me to
use my voice and express myself in other any form other than
a test or exam, I excelled. My science fair project from 9th
grade until 12th grade competed in the International Science
and Engineering Fairs. I was a competitive Speech and Drama
student. I was involved in theater. All the non-traditional
areas that do not make the "Merit Scholar" or win
a scholarship I did better at.
led a life filled with the answers but had no way to get them
out. Often my thoughts and ideas felt trapped. Sometimes I
was so full of thoughts that needed to get out, I would blurt
them out at the most inappropriate times and places. But I
had a dream to go on to college and to go into a helping profession.
So I had to figure it out on my own.
have dyslexia and attention deficit disorder. I also have
language processing disorders that affect my reading and writing.
I have epilepsy but my seizures are controlled with medication.
me this meant attending and failing out of three different
colleges before I found the right one for me. This also meant
spending 7 years trying to obtain my bachelors degree. It
meant fighting with professors in order to get extra time
on exams. It meant hearing over and over again how my being
in their class was affecting the "academic integrity"
of their course. I even had one professor make fun of me in
these issues had to be dealt with and I could not have done
that without the help of the Disability Support Services office
at my university. I had to learn to be a self-advocate but
also ask for help when I needed it. I had to learn about things
like the Vocational Rehabilitation Services that were available.
the end of the seven years I had accomplished a double major
from a prestigious university. I had planned to stop there.
I was tired and I was ready to be done with school. But then
a professor convinced me that I could get my Masters degree.
I went ahead and took the GRE's with accommodations and applied
to graduate school. I did not get accepted. In fact, the letter
I received made it very clear that I was not going to be able
to succeed in this very competitive program with or without
accommodations. I was devastated and I was ready to settle
for what I had already. But then the same professor who encouraged
me to apply reminded me that I had dreamed of being great
and .."good was not enough when you dream of being great!"
So I appealed the decision and I won the appeal. I was on
probation the first semester, but I did fine. Three years
after that I received my Masters degree.
my graduate degree, I have dealt with employers who were not
so accommodating and others who have been great. I even had
an employer stop the interview after I disclosed my disability
and told him what my needs would be as far as accommodations.
The rule of disclosure for an invisible disability,
do not disclose on the interview. I have learned as I went
I work in a field I love. My employer is very accommodating.
I am able to tell co-workers what my needs are. And still
everyday I learn a new lesson that helps me to be more assertive
and knowledgeable about my needs. It has been on an educational
journey and I am always learning how to learn.
the author: Joy Cobb currently works as a project manager
for MAXIMUS, Inc. on youth focused projects. As a licensed
vocational rehabilitation counselor and rehabilitation provider,
Joy has managed federally funded projects that provide services
for disabled and at-risk youth and adults. As a private consultant,
Ms. Cobb presents seminars and workshops on employment issues
related to the disabled in the workplace.
is the author of Learning How To Learn - Getting into and
Surviving College When You Have a Learning Disability,
now in its second edition.
graduated from The George Washington University (GWU) in Washington,
DC with a BA in Psychology in 1992 and received her MA from
GWU in 1995 in Education and Human Development with a specialty
in Vocational Rehabilitation Counseling.
more information on Joy's work, visit www.learninghowtolearn.net