A label can say so little about who a person is, yet it can trap and confine us in a tiny box. As a child, I was diagnosed with attention deficit disorder and reading processing disorder. I feared how others would perceive me and my abilities. My psychiatrist once told me I might not ever make it to college.
This year, I graduated from Barrett, The Honors College at Arizona State University, with a degree in biological sciences. I left with a 4.0 GPA and my major’s Student of the Year and Outstanding Graduate for the School of Life Sciences awards and the Moeur Award. I started ASU’s mentorship program for youth with learning differences and held a leadership position in my sorority.
I was determined to become the best version of myself and to teach others that they too are capable of achieving their dreams, no matter how different they might seem. Being different is something that should be embraced and encouraged.
Knowing what I felt like growing up, I wanted to help others not to feel lost or insignificant. I started mentoring youth in high school and loved every second of it. From my own experiences, I made it my life’s mission to support others. Some of my most treasured memories are mentoring at-risk youth, underprivileged youth and youth in orphanages.
Teach for America, a nonprofit organization that recruits future leaders to teach at least two years in low-income schools, approached me in my senior year. I was really impressed with the potential impact I could have on the students. For the next two years, I will be teaching middle school science in the Glendale Elementary School District. When my contract ends, I plan to go to medical school with the goal of becoming a pediatric psychiatrist.
I chose this route before the COVID-19 pandemic. I did not see this path as delaying medical school, but rather as a wonderful learning opportunity that will enhance my ability, hopefully, to become a successful pediatric psychiatrist. In hindsight this was the best decision I could have made. I am thankfully employed, doing something I enjoy, working with kids and gaining invaluable experience.
I am passionate about helping kids with learning differences and kids who feel that they do not fit in, to find a way to recognize their true potential. I want to assist them in realizing this potential.
Teach for America is a unique opportunity to gain insight into how kids interact at school with their educators and peers. I believe I will gain a true understanding of the assistance students need outside of the educational system, learn about the struggles they are facing right now and help them develop the tools for future success.
If I’ve learned anything from my experience with learning differences, it’s that there is no shame in being different. The shame is putting yourself in a box and not seizing the opportunity to recognize your full potential.
At the end of the day, a smile on just one child’s face will make all the hard work worth it. JN
Chloe Breger is a member of Congregation Beth Tefillah and recent graduate of ASU’s Barret’s Honors College. She is starting her teaching career this fall in Glendale with Teach for America.