College can be hard for anyone. It’s a new, challenging experience that can leave a student feeling out of their comfort zone. On top of that, some students may be trying to manage with a learning disability; like first-year student Kelsee Lawson, but she isn’t letting that stop her from having a successful college career.
When Kelsee was about to enter the eighth grade, she was diagnosed with dyslexia in phonics. This means that she has trouble with reading, comprehension, and pronunciation of words, not the order of letters and numbers. She said, “Ever since I was little, I struggled with reading. Reading took me forever to do. But I learned how to deal with it and knew I could still be successful in school.” Kelsee was aware of the extra work needed to complete an assignment, but she was interested to know why she was having struggles.
“My first thought when I learned I had dyslexia was that I was relieved. I was able to understand why I had struggles. I got to learn more about the type of dyslexia I had, which was slowly becoming more noticeable,” said Kelsee.
She has overcome her dyslexia by openly communicating with her teachers through middle school and high school, who were all willing to help. Kelsee said, “I was new to explaining to people that I have dyslexia, so it did feel a little weird to talk about, but over time I have accepted that it is a part of who I am. Now I have a reason to get accommodations to help me stay successful and not feel overwhelmed. My determination to push through my struggles also helped me stay motivated to get high grades.”
When the time came for Kelsee to start applying to college, there were two key things she was looking for: a small college for personal connections with her professors to ensure that she was getting accommodation support and a place to swim. Kelsee joined the The University of Olivet family from Mattawan, Michigan, and is currently in her first year studying business.
“The University of Olivet had everything that I wanted in a college. Joey Shepherd has been extremely helpful with getting the accommodations that I need. I can easily reach out to him and ask him for a room in the student success center for a test or an exam. Joey has also helped me inform all my professors about my learning disability,” Kelsee explained.
Joey Shepherd, director of student support and academic accommodations, said, “I maintain consistent communication with each student receiving accommodations, and many students meet with me on a regular basis. Each student is encouraged to meet with me to tailor their accommodations from semester to semester. Accommodations are individualized to sufficiently support the needs of each student. OC is a great institution of higher learning to consider if you or your student needs accommodations due to a disability, disorder, and/or impairment.”
Today, Kelsee approaches learning just like anyone else. She even welcomed the transition from high school to college. “I wanted to change my environment and have new opportunities. There are times I have tons of assignments to do and quizzes or tests to study for, but I make it work. I plan ahead,” she said. Kelsee credits some of the skills she uses in school to being a student-athlete. She said, “I feel that being a student-athlete for so many years has helped me learn time management, communication, and how to work hard. I learned how to plan my time. There are many times that I feel overwhelmed, but I figure out how I want to complete everything.
“I feel I learned more about myself. I knew the type of person I was before I got tested for dyslexia, but now I have an even better understanding of who I am. Plus, I am proud to express that I have dyslexia, and I am not afraid to talk about it with others. Being here at The University of Olivet, I’ve met other students with learning disabilities. We support each other, and it’s great that the College supports us, too.”
To learn more about The University of Olivet, contact the Office of Admission at 269-749-7635 or firstname.lastname@example.org.