This is the essay I submitted to the New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome & Associated Disorders (NJCTS) for their 2013 Children’s Scholarship Award contest. I hope you enjoy it! And here is my profile on the NJCTS website.
Kindergarten to eighth grade, I attended I very small Catholic school. My graduating class was only 12 girls and no boys. I was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome in the first grade. I was fortunate to be in such a small classroom environment, as my classmates were familiar with my vocal and motor skill tics. I think they all just got used to me and what I did!
Coming to Bishop Ahr, which is a large Catholic high school, I was apprehensive about how my new classmates would react to my disorder. I had a hard time adjusting my freshman and sophomore years. The added stress I put onto myself made my situation worse. My neurologist always told me to be hopeful, that most people’s symptoms lessen during the adolescent years.
I started competitive cheerleading and gymnastics in kindergarten. It was something I could do well and be comfortable with. Performing in front of others is a scary thought for someone with Tourette Syndrome, but I soon found out I was a natural at it.
I would have never thought I would be able to try out for a high school competitive cheerleading team. Bishop Ahr cheerleading has a reputation for being state and national champions, and they are very well known across the country for being one of the best high school cheering teams.
When I was younger, I admired those girls and I strived to be just like them. When I was a freshman, more than 100 girls tried out for the three teams — freshman, junior varsity and varsity. As a freshman, I was one of only three girls that made the varsity team during their freshman year.
Now, I am a senior at Bishop Ahr and captain of the varsity cheerleading team. Over the past four years, I have wontDouble International Champion, Grand Champion and State Champion titles, and my team has gone undefeated in our local competitions. I am now preparing to try out for Monmouth University’s competitive cheerleading team.
When I am cheering, I don’t think twice about having Tourette Syndrome, and I barely notice the vocal and motor tics. When I am concentrating on my routine or tumbling pass, I don’t see to tic at all. Being able to tumble and do gymnastics has made me a much better cheerleader and sets me apart from the crowd.
All of these positive influences have given me a strong sense of confidence in myself, and this is the exact reason why I want to help kids like me fight through their disabilities and become the kind of person I am today.
I have wanted to be a speech pathologist for as long as I can remember. Personally, I know how it feels to be the kid that everybody makes fun of because of something they cannot control.
In the fall, I will be continuing my studies at Monmouth University and majoring in speech and language pathology. I know I will do great in college, and I am determined to succeed in higher education. I have really improved my grades during my senior year.
Having Tourette Syndrome has never held me back from anything I set my mind to. Tourette Syndrome has taught me how to be a strong person and has given me the drive and determination to be successful in college. All I need is the opportunity because I know that a bright future is in store for me.