MY EDUCATION WAS EARNED the hard way and college courses were challenging. Because of my dyslexia, I had to work ten times harder than most students. Libraries became my second home where I spent hours researching and learning material I had not understood in high school. After completing the basic course work, I was ready to take classes in the Departments of Agriculture, Animal Science, and Agriculture Education. By this time, I had friends I could study with. When I needed to write a paper, I would ask my friends to look over my writing and make corrections.
I developed my own system that helped me comprehend the assigned reading in a way that would be productive. I color coded the important information and then developed my own outline for memorization. I studied the outline over and over until I could see it in my mind. Studying involved memorizing the formulas and writing them over and over. Writing out mathematical formulas and calculations on paper helped me to learn the abstract material.
When it came time for the test, I would write out the formulas on the test before answering the first question. This helped me to focus on the questions without having to think about the correct formula at the same time. Because I wrote out the formulas, I had a visual focus of which one to select in order to answer the question. I always read the question three times. The first read was to comprehend what the professor was asking. The second time was for underlining key words or phrases. The third time was to make sure I had the correct answer. Multiple-choice questions took longer to answer than true or false questions. I preferred it when the professor simply asked straightforward questions in the form of a list or short answer type questions.
If I had to write a paper in class, I used small words that I could easily spell. My handwritten papers involved a thorough process of planning an outline of key points. I wrote down the key points on the back of the test so that the professor would know I did this in class. After developing my outline I then wrote my paragraphs. I had to think and write fast due to the time frame. If the paper could be done outside of class, I would develop an outline before starting my paragraphs. Then I worked on a draft copy until I was satisfied with my thoughts and writing. The last step was to handprint my final copy before paying the secretary in the animal science department to proof and type my paper.
When it came to spelling, all bets were off. Spelling was a challenge but I was never too far from a dictionary. All of this studying took extra time but it paid off for me because I made As and Bs. Those times were difficult, as money was scarce and studying was strenuous, but it was a small price to pay for the rewards of a good education.
Step by step and class by class, I was completing the required hours and course work needed to earn a Bachelor of Science degree at Texas A&M University. Finally, I earned enough credits to have the honor of ordering my senior ring. When I received my ring, I stood and looked at the shield, the thirteen stripes, the five stars, the eagle, the wreath of olive and laurel, the cannon, saber, rifle, and the flags on my ring. Each of these symbols stood for a value that an Aggie should hold. I knew that the five stars on the shield represented: mind, body, spiritual development, emotional poise, and integrity of character. Overall the ring portrayed a strong set of values: excellence, integrity, leadership, loyalty, respect, and selfless service.
I thanked God for providing a way for me as I proudly placed my Aggie Ring on the ring finger of my right hand. Hard work, diligence, sacrifice, and determination were the unseen values that made my ring possible. I believed in myself and that big ideas and dreams can become reality-one small step at a time.
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