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I had a “learning disability”: How I Ignited My Valor… Hope’s Story

… I overheard the rest of the kids in my class saying how everyone who goes to Mrs. Whitmill’s class is “retarded.”

I grew up with two sisters who excelled in their studies and both attended prestigious colleges.

I loved being home schooled in my early years so when I found out I had to start public school I cried for weeks. My dad was laid off and my mom needed to work which means I had to go to public school… such is life. But unknown to me, I was previously labeled with a learning disability (apparently I had already been tested) which made for a much more difficult transition.

My mom never made me feel that there was something wrong with me and I remember her staying up late many school nights helping me finish my homework or study for a test.

Most of those nights ended in crying, frustration and feeling “stupid.” I know I took my frustration out on her when she was the only one who gave me the patience and help that I needed.

My learning disability was plastered all over my report cards and class schedules. I remember sitting in class the first week in public school in 4th grade and the teacher saying, “Everyone who is in Mrs. Whitmill’s class, you may leave now.”  Then later, I overheard the rest of the kids in my class saying how everyone who goes to Mrs. Whitmill’s class is retarded. I remember the shame and embarrassment I felt about how my brain functioned and I was only a 4th grader. From then on I did the best I could to hide my learning disability.  I was determined to remove that label from my life!

In high school I made a goal to graduate as a regular student with no label or extra help. I ended up sharing my insecurity to my friends at school, who were all AP 4.0 students. Once I no longer felt ashamed by my label I could start defeating it, then pushing myself beyond my preconceived limits. I became a leader in the top choirs at West Orange and ended up graduating with a 3.5 GPA, without a learning disability label on my report card my senior year!

I never dreamed I would pursue anything higher than a high school diploma. Now I am enrolled in college and have a hunger to grow in knowledge and push myself scholastically! I love that through my former label and limits, I now have a story to share. I am passionate about having a way to relate to other young women who have been labeled or who believe they are limited in what they are capable of accomplishing.  I am no longer ashamed of my past, but eager to share it to change someone’s future!

At the Lovely Experience on January 26th, I have the privilege to speak on “valor.

Valor means: “strength of mind or spirit that enables a person to encounter danger with firmness; personal bravery”. Just hearing the word valor inspires me! Everyone goes through situations where they need strength of mind.

I want the young women of Orlando to ignite their valor together, side-by-side, with a group of friends and sisters who love each other.

Valor isn’t only needed in war movies, it is needed in our schools, homes and city.

 I hope to see you at The Lovely One Day Experience! 


Click here to register.