Overcoming obstacles to achieve my dreams.
I have never been good at backing down from a challenge. With a sense or either stubbornness or perseverance, I responded or every opposition, every dare, every doubt with the same response:“Watch me.”
So, when I was told at the age of eleven that I had Stargardt’s Macular Degeneration, I welcomed the obstacle. I had no idea at the time what this meant for my future, but it did not concern me.I did not know that by the time I was thirteen I wouldn’t be able to read a white board anymore or that by fourteen I would have developed a blind spot right in the center of both my eyes. I did not know that by eighteen I would no longer be able too read most books anymore or recognize the faces of my loved ones. I did not know what it meant to have low vision. I’m glad I didn’t.
Having low vision was so engrained into my daily life that I barely noticed as my eyesight began to deteriorate. In fact, to this day I hardly notice my blind spot unless someone else mentions it. As my blind spot grew and my visual acuity worsened I began to adapt. I subconsciously began taking note of what family and friends were wearing so I wouldn’t lose them in stores or crowds, I trained myself to become a more auditory learner, and I would order whatever the person in from of me got at Chipotle since there was no way I could identify what the various colors behind the glass were supposed to be.
I became so accustomed to life with Stargardt’s that I forgot that there was even a life without it. That is why I struggled so much with the idea that other people put limitations on me before I could even show what I could do. When I was about sixteen I was told by school administrators that I would not succeed in advanced level courses (I had previously been in several honors and AP level classes), would not go to college, would not drive a car, and would never live independently. As angry as I was that these adults, the ones who should be pushing me to aim high and work hard, were only giving me lists of things I could not do; I was not discouraged. Watch me.
They said I would never drive a car. Watch me.
On October 10, 2012 I received my restricted driver’s license.
They said I would not succeed in advanced level courses. Watch me.
I graduated high school Cum Laude, having completed and passed every honors and AP course I took.
They said I would not go to college. Watch me.
I enrolled at Montclair State University as a dance major and the only visually impaired dancer in the program. Not only that, but I received the Dean’s List almost every semester of college.
They said I would never live independently. Watch me.
After graduation, I moved to Florida in pursuit of my Master’s of Education in Educational Leadership at Florida Atlantic University. I support myself and am helping students in their adjustment into college life and guiding them towards living independently as well.
The moral of the story is that we all have limitless potential in us. We cannot allow other to determine our abilities or our worth. You are the only person on this planet who knows exactly what you are capable of. This is one story among 7.5 billion stories all filled with their own obstacles and struggles and triumphs and achievements. Your story is unique to you so do not allow others to write your chapters for you.
I hope that by sharing my story, I can help increase awareness and knowledge about the subject of low vision, supporting students with varying abilities, and advocating for disabled dancers. Through this blog I hope to share with you all I know about low vision, dance, and life. I hope I can empower and motivate you push yourself, love yourself, and to be limitless.