Ryan was a winner of a 2021 NJCTS Scholarship Award.
This was the essay he included with his application.
I gazed upon the vast audience as I began to recite my speech. My mind was racing, knowing that I had never spoken in front of so many people. I was at The Bridge Academy’s annual gala delivering a speech I had written. My participation in extracurricular activities such as this was limited during my days in elementary school. I was diagnosed with ADHD and Tourette’s syndrome at a young age, so the thought of partaking in different opportunities was intimidating. What if people were disturbed by the peculiar sounds I consistently made? Would my struggles to remain focused result in me daydreaming, missing vital details, and becoming hopelessly lost and unable to engage in any activities? This was my predominant mindset throughout my youth.
Fortunately, upon entering high school, I had many teachers who saw the potential in me. They began pushing me more frequently to apply myself, which resulted in me standing in a crowded room delivering a speech at the gala. Given that this was a new experience for me, I was terrified. However, after watching the other selected students recite their speeches, I noticed that they were also nervous. The anxious shivering and worried feelings were not exclusive to me. It was at this moment that I recognized that I was just as capable as anybody else, no matter what my diagnoses are.
This experience allowed me to transition into becoming more of a leader. The search for a field of employment had eluded me for a long time, as I desired to find a job which would not require me to demonstrate leadership qualities. Once I discovered that I had ample skills to become a leader, I became willing to explore a greater variety of occupations. I decided that becoming a teacher is the job that would suit me best. I spent multiple years throughout high school working as an assistant Taekwondo instructor, and this experience has further proven to me that education is the field I wish to pursue. I desire to have a positive influence with students because my teachers encouraged me. I had an epiphany that changed my life, and I know that I can relate my experiences to prospective students so that they are able to reach their full potential. My goal is to attend The College of New Jersey so that I can attain a dual degree in history and secondary education. I firmly believe that I deserve this scholarship because of the arduous effort I put into becoming a leader.
When I become a teacher, I will have a platform to pass on my advice to students with learning disabilities. I would reassure them that just because they learn differently does not mean that they are any less worthy of greatness. I would encourage students to find their passion and continue to search for new opportunities allowing them to advance even further. Living their lives in fear of presenting themselves to the world would be a waste their talents. I want the opportunity to inspire the unique but brilliant minds of future generations. Thank you.