2014 Anne Ford Scholarship Winner

Since early elementary school, 2014 Anne Ford Scholar Hanna Pintado had a sense that something was different about the way that she learned. A formal evaluation of her learning during her junior year of high school gave her the tools she needed to become a strong self-advocate.

Hanna Pintado – Personal Statement

The bright orange bus picks me up at the corner of the street where I wait on a bench with my mother. She plays with my hair and fixes my cotton blouse. The bright orange bus screeches and comes to a stop. The stop sign pulls out the driver’s side window and I know it is okay to cross. My palms are sweaty and I am petrified to cross the road.
When you come home from school your parents ask you the same questions: “How was school today and did you learn anything new?” First grade is the year children tend to learn how to read fluently. I noticed that the other students were able to read faster than me and fly through questions. By the time I finished a story, I could not even understand what it was about. When Ms. Hutchins would call on me to answer a question in class on the passage we read I would be embarrassed, because I had no idea what the answer was. The worse part was that even though I read the passage several times, everyone thought I didn’t read it and was “dumb.” So my answer to my parents question when I came home was: “School was terrible and it takes me a longer time to do work compared to the other children.”
From first grade I knew there was something wrong. I finally had my mother take me to a psychiatrist in my junior year of high school. I was diagnosed with ADHD and anxiety. The doctor prescribed medication, but I knew there was still something else going on. At school, I pushed to get an IEP evaluation. At that time, I was diagnosed with a reading disorder.
Everything started to make sense. I could not pass the reading part of the state exam, the FCAT. When I was in third grade, I took the test for the first time. Within the first ten minutes, I threw up all over my test and went home sick. The anxiety really got to me and from there on out, the test was a huge stumbling block for me. In eighth grade, I barely passed. Freshman year of high school, I did not.
This posed a problem, because I planned to apply for dual enrollment—where high school students can take courses at a local college or university—during my sophomore year. My guidance counselor wouldn’t give me the application because I hadn’t yet passed my FCAT. But I wasn’t about to let that stop me. I went to Valencia, the local community college, and took the entrance test on my own. I passed. I was the only student that was both taking college courses and a period of Intensive Reading at the high school. I got great grades at Valencia and through my hard work, passed my FCAT.
Throughout my life I faced LD as an obstacle. People are often shocked when they find out I have LD because I am an excellent student. I have top grades and am in honor society. People often don’t think I have a reading disorder because I try a billion times harder than just about any other student. I study harder and work harder to maintain a 4.0 GPA while taking a full load of courses at Valencia while still in high school and participating in varsity sports, clubs and local volunteer groups.
Now when I come home from school and my parents ask me how my day was and what I learned, I tell them, “I had a good day at school and I learned everything.” By the end of the day, I am proud of myself for not letting my LD restrain me from academic success.
I also have come to understand that some of the most intellectual, significant people have LD too …so why lean on it as a negative thing? LD is often a camouflage on those of us who have it—we know that something is wrong, but we don’t know exactly what until it’s specifically pointed out by professionals.
LD will always cause struggle in my life. But I’m going to continue on the path I’m already walking: I’ve made a habit of working hard everyday, and that’s made it easier. I am one out of many LD students who works hard to show everyone that LD doesn’t have to restrain you from success in academics and life.