January 17th, 2020

Honoring 2019 Anne Ford Scholarship Winner, Tyler Washington

NCLD annually awards the Anne Ford and Allegra Ford Thomas Scholarships to graduating high school seniors with learning and attention issues. We recognize and support these scholars to lessen the financial burden of higher education for students who already face various barriers to success.

The 2019 Anne Ford Scholarship winner, Tyler Washington, was honored at NCLD’s Annual Benefit and Cocktail Party: A Taste of Eataly, in November 2019.

In a room full of supporters, advocates, and partners, Tyler captivated the audience with her story of becoming the role model she is today. The text below is a recap of Tyler’s speech.

I’ve spent my entire life working hard to get people to see past my learning disability and recognize me for my interests, strengths, and determination. It’s still overwhelming to think that a national organization like NCLD saw me, believed in me, and is willing to invest in my future.

I was the little girl who flew under the radar at school. I was creative and smart. My teachers never noticed how much I struggled with reading. 

In middle school, getting evaluated for a learning disability was the best thing that happened to me. In my heart I knew I was smart. I finally had proof for anyone who doubted my abilities and thought, for even one second, that they could hold me back or discourage me from reaching high and working toward my dreams. 

In high school, I was the kid who loved jigsaw puzzles, cryptograms, and mazes, and unlike in reading, I was able to “break the code” and find success in computer programming. Now, I am enrolled at the Storrs Campus of the University of Connecticut, as a computer science and engineering major, and a minor in cognitive science. 

A day (or even an hour) doesn’t go by when some aspect of my learning disability shows up. I know there are dozens of people here tonight who have LD or know someone who does. It’s hard to put into words how wonderful and empowering that makes me feel. 

I have a favorite saying that goes like this: “If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its life thinking that it is stupid.” I know it’s hard to change people’s mindsets, but that‘s what we all need to do. And NCLD, you can count me in. 

To my mom and dad, my brother, and my entire family (including my dog Hunter), thank you for always believing in me and making my success and my happiness your #1 priority. 

To my new NCLD family and all of you here tonight,
let’s do this—let’s make the world a better place for everyone with LD.

As Tyler said, we at NCLD are proud to “make the world a better place for everyone with LD.” One of the ways we do that is through supporting students’ higher education goals with the Anne Ford and Allegra Ford Thomas Scholarships. If you know an aspiring college student with a learning disability and/or attention issue who needs financial support for a two- or four-year program, encourage them to join Tyler as our next scholarship winner.

Applications for the 2020 scholarships are open. The deadline to apply is January 31, 2020. Candidates can apply at https://apply.ncld.org/

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