My learning disability did not end my dream


Jeniffer Torres/The Union

When I was a sophomore at Lawndale High School, I noticed that I was struggling with my reading.

People in class would make fun of me for how I spoke and the way I pronounced words when I read aloud.

Over time, I soon realized my high school journey that should be filled with fun experiences and memories became some of my worst years.

My English teacher would call on me to read aloud often in class.

When I started to read a section of words, I wasn’t able to pronounce them correctly, which caused my assigned reading level to decrease.

I started to become the shy girl in class, who read in a lower voice so no one could hear. Eventually, my English teacher began asking me to start speaking up when I read over the textbook material in class.

I raised my voice higher for my teacher to hear a couple of times, but I refused to listen to my own voice as I found more comfort reading in silence.

My English teacher’s persistence for me to improve led her to find out that I was struggling in school because I have a learning disability.

I have dyslexia.

According to Mayo Clinic, a nonprofit organization focused on clinical practice, education and research, “dyslexia is a learning disorder that involves difficulty reading due to problems identifying speech sounds and learning how they relate to letters and words (decoding).”

As soon as my teacher found out that I had dyslexia she recommended I started reading easier books — I didn’t want to. I wanted to read books that were at my grade level as those type of books challenged me to get better at reading.

Sometimes I would read books very slowly, only to get frustrated with myself because I couldn’t pronounce a single word.

It is in this moment, I wanted to give up on reading altogether. However, I’m that kind person who is always down for a challenge.

Through my journey with dyslexia, I discovered my future dream career.

I was in Consumer Value Store (CVS) with one of my friends at the time and we both read magazines together. I read a lot of teen magazines during that time, mesmerized by how these publications captured so much detail in each story with accompanying photos

Ever since that day, I could not stop reading magazines because the words inside flowed with ease. Since then, I knew I wanted to write for a magazine.

When I applied for El Camino College at 17-years-old, I put my major as journalism.

Journalism was a difficult major choice for me, especially with my dyslexia.

I continued to try my best in college by applying for several resources on campus, including the Special Resource Center (SRC) program.

The SRC program has helped me in my college journey by introducing different services available on campus to help me develop better reading and writing skills.

I started to notice when I pronounced each word, I was gradually getting better and better.

Within each program, I was able to see how much my writing and reading skills improved through additional reading assessments at the Student Equity and Achievement Success Center.

I then checked each writing assessment by reading aloud and using the services at the High Tech Center, which allowed me to scan my textbooks and read the text out to me alongside additional guidance from the Reading and Writing Center.

In addition, I used the tutors from the Writing Center to help me understand English essays and journalism assignments.

After each semester, I continued to read books and newspaper articles that I found on the internet to challenge myself and dig deeper into what I have learned and accomplished as a student journalist.

During the pandemic, I started to use different dictionary applications to help me with some difficult words I didn’t know.

I would listen to the sound of each word, read each word and then pronounce it. Most of the new words I had to learn came from journalism reading homework and other courses I’ve taken recently.

The difficulties that I face with my dyslexia and having to take a bit of extra time to focus on my reading and writing skills don’t define who I am as a journalism student. In fact, my struggles have given me the ability to ask questions without hesitation and to not hold back if I need further clarification.

As a journalist, these are traits that we strive to achieve each and every day in order to ask the right questions and provide clear, accurate information to our community.

I still try to read my college work by myself with no one helping me, and I still struggle with reading, but it has not stopped me from pursuing my dreams.

The quiet person I once was now enjoys reading books and newspaper articles out loud for everyone to hear.

Editor’s note: The headline was changed on Dec. 3.