Last year during August Orientation, I was asked to speak on behalf of the Academic Support & Enrichment Center. I was told the students attending the seminar would be eligible for academic accommodations. I was to discuss my interactions with the office and maybe give a little bit of advice. After hours of trying to figure out exactly what to say, I had little more than a paragraph.
When the moment came, I remember sitting in Herrick Hall, staring at squiggles written down on my piece of paper. Then I heard, “And now one of our students is going to tell us about his experience with the Academic Support & Enrichment Center.” In that split second, I decided to disregard the paragraph written and just go for it. My words to those 60 first-year students were as follows:
Hi, my name is Adam Rice. I am from Kalamazoo, Michigan; a sophomore here at Denison; studio art major; and I am dyslexic. Before I came to college, my psychologist told me I could never learn a foreign language. Now, me being stubborn, after taking two years of Spanish in high school, I decided to prove him wrong. In fact I was the only one, with just two years of the language under my belt, to be placed in the 8:30 a.m. segment of Spanish 112. In my first semester at Denison I was able keep my head above water by working with the professor and friends.
However, halfway through my second semester I needed help. Even with the support of my professor and friends, I was still working three times as hard compared to my peers and seeing little result. So I contacted the office of Academic Support and Enrichment to ask for advice. Through the assistance of Heather, I signed up for tutoring and met again with my professor. After much aid, I was able to walk away from Spanish 211 unscathed.
Now, it would be all too easy to say the moral of that story is, don’t wait until you’re in hot water to get help, and that’s true, but the real message I want you to get from this is, in college and in life you’re going to have to make decisions. Each of these decisions will open and close new doors. Some of these doors will lead to great successes along with the feeling of accomplishing something you didn’t think you could do in a million years. And that’s one of the best feelings in the world. And then you will fail. And you need to know that is okay, because for each one of your failures, those shortcomings, you will learn twice as much than from those few successes.
And as long as you take those failures and learn from them, then you will not only have a great four years here at Denison, but a successful life. Buena suerte!