During birth at Texas Children’s Hospital in downtown Houston, I lost oxygen putting me in the hospital for the first 22 days of my life. As a toddler, my parents started to notice that I was not doing anything that a normal toddler would do such as rolling over or holding my head up by myself. After my third birthday, I was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy. With knowing that I would need support on the next rocky road that was coming, Houston provided me with a warm blanket of tools such as therapies, equipment, and medical support.
As a child with a disability, I needed a lot of medical care. Texas Children’s is one of the best hospitals that specializes in kids with Cerebral Palsy. With a whole team of experts, the hospital area became my second home. While driving around in downtown Houston, I would look up at the tall buildings that made up the medical center. The people walking in downtown to and from work intrigued me by representing the city life. With my legs swinging, I would tell my mom through sign language that “I want to live here when I am all grown up”. Even though she was worried inside knowing that I would have many obstacles that would come with that dream, she put a happy face on and always encouraged me by saying “you can do whatever you want if you put your mind to it.”
Putting me in my car seat for the very first time, my parents finally took me to my new home in the suburbs of Houston in the bubble of the Woodlands. With the Woodlands acting like another mother’s womb, I felt very safe and protected. On my third birthday, my parents put me on the bus to school. Though I was nonverbal, my teacher saw a spark in my eye of intelligence. It was her mission to figure out how I could express myself. Within a year, I got my first communications device. At that point, the hope of being successful in school as well as going beyond high school graduation was becoming a reality. With the open door of expression, I could be in mainstreamed classes all the way from kindergarten to high school graduation.
Getting my first motorized wheelchair in Kindergarten in the suburbs, I was able to get a sense of freedom that I didn’t have before. On the playground, I was able to participate in playing tag or etc. with my peers. I was finally making friends gaining self-confidence with speaking out which was a major skill that led me to stand out in a big university.
I was involved in a lot of clubs and organizations that boosted my self-esteem. In high school, I figured out that I was bisexual. One day, I was scrambling through the clubs at my High School and ran across the Gay and Straight Alliance. Although I was not gay or straight, I went anyway to check it out. I was worried about how my peers would react to a girl in a wheelchair who is bisexual. To my surprise, they were nothing but accepting. I started to embrace my sexuality. From always being an outsider, I was finally forming new relationships and being involved socially with my peers. Within a year, I was the president of the club expanding my leadership skills.
From an early age, I always knew I wanted to move out and go to a college in a big city like Houston. In the back of everybody’s mind, they were very hesitant knowing that I will need a lot of support. However, that didn’t stop me. I just turned around and said, “watch me”.
The fight to get into college started as a freshman. I was being consistently told to get good grades. I treated my education as a luxury job. Giving my all to making sure that I was exceeding classes, I gave it an extra effort by going to tutoring and studying for 4 or more hours each day. My teachers at The Woodlands High School took me under their wings. They were motivated to give me extra attention by me having the urge to want to learn.
Looking into colleges, I had a few things in mind that my future home of education needed to have. I needed to be close to my parents’ house in the Woodlands in case of an emergency. However, I still wanted to live in a handicapped accessible dorm on campus. The University of Houston drew my attention by having its own Students with Disabilities Center. By knowing that I would get my needs taken care of, I felt more confident in choosing that school as my next home.
As I continued working towards college, it was time for me to take the SATs. After taking my first attempt, I decided that I needed more help. In the Woodlands, I took advantage of the tutoring system. After 3 months of getting together with my tutor once a week, I took the SATs again for the second time. Even though I did better than the first attempt, my scores did not meet the requirements for the University of Houston.
Although my SATs scores were just under the requirements, I applied to the university with the hope for the best. I gathered reference letters from my support team from the Woodlands including teachers, employers, and my horseback riding instructor. I even scored a letter of reference from the superintendent of my school district.
After a drawn-out battle, I was finally accepted to the University of Houston. Getting all new furniture for my new dorm, I began getting ready to move out. I managed to hire 5 home attendants that would rotate around the clock forming 24/7 assistance. They would go with me everywhere including from class to class helping me be successful.
I am currently majoring in Digital Media and minoring in Communications. I was given a handicapped dorm perfect for me to wheel around freely in my own space. I was also able to get all of my accommodations in place to have me be successful during my time at the University of Houston such as extra time on exams, all of the notes from the instructors, electronic copies of the textbooks, and more.
Studying hard and getting involved in more organizations on campus, I want my time at the University of Houston to count for one of the best times of my life. My goal is to graduate and become an inspirational speaker by traveling around the world sharing my experience. While I spread my wings and go change the world one step at a time, I will always circle back to Houston where I call home.