The Journey To Success

Do you have a dream that you are awaiting to fulfill? Or are you  consistently struggling to achieve a goal? Do you feel like you are making no progress despite all your hard work like you are spinning in a circle?   If you answered yes to these three questions, then this blog is for you! 

The Journey to Success is not easy, believe me!  I have struggled and jumped over so many hurdles to get where I am in life. My learning disability is my strength, not my weakness. There is a stigma that those with special needs are weak and limited to their ability. I want to let you know there are #nolimits to what we can achieve!

Join me on this journey to success! I want to share with you, my personal stories of inspiration and motivation that helped me to overcome the challenges I have faced. Your special needs may be different than mine but you do not have to overcome the challenges alone. We are on this journey together! 

A Time of Change

I am sorry. I have been MIA for the last few weeks and I bet you are wondering what happened. There has been a lot of change on my end, and no matter how hard I tried to prepare ahead of time there were a few hiccups along the way. Don’t worry, everything is settling down and I am feeling so positive about the future.

I will give you the scoop. The last two weekends in April I had back to back speaking engagements. I was speaking at the Ontario National Alliance of Black Student Educators (ONABSE) annual conference and just this weekend I was in Kingston, Ontario delivering a keynote speak at the Speak Up 4 Ability forum by the Learning Disability Association of Kingston.  In between all these events, I was moving and battling a cold.

The excpectations in post-secondary are different from high school, Are you ready? 

The excpectations in post-secondary are different from high school, Are you ready? 

The themes of transition and changed were huge topics in both of my presentations. I cannot stress enough the importance of helping and preparing students who are transitioning into post-secondary education. The process to receive help and support for students with LD is a whole new ball game and if you are not prepared for the change you may strike out.

If you are joining me, now on this journey you may want to go back and read my story. I was one of those students who had a difficult time in university a major reason was because I had a learning disability and I did not know how or where to get help on campus.

IEP/ IPP do not transfer over into college and university. Upon walking on campus, students need to learn to raise their voice and be their own advocate in order to get the support and accommodations they are entitled to. Yes, entitled it is not a choice it is students right. Any student with a disability has the right to a barrier-free education and it is the colleges and universities duties to ensure students succeed in their studies with no barriers. However, this only happens when students speak up and start advocating for themselves. No mom and dad cannot be your voice, you have to speak up for yourself.

If you will be starting college or university this fall, here are a few tips to help you get off to a great start this fall.

1.   Do not wait to visit the student disability service centre.

If you have been identified as having a learning disability, or ADHD and have an IEP/ IPP go to campus and speak to someone at the disability service centre. Explain to them that you will be starting school in the fall (or whatever semester) and you have been receiving accommodations and support in high school and want to know how to get the same support in post-secondary? The exact question you need to ask and the person should instantly guide you through the process.

2.   ‘I can do it on my own.’

Do not get caught up in this mind trap and think you can solve or handle your problems on your own.  Everyone needs a team to help them reach the top. Do not wait until it is too late. Ask questions, ask for help. Be in constant communication with those around you wanting to support you. Do not go MIA and think you can handle it on your own because if you could it would have been dealt with by now.

3.   Plan Your Study/ work schedule for the semester

You cannot be mad at the results you did not earn if you did not put in the effort. College and University schedules can be hectic, regardless it is important to prepare and plan your study schedule. A simple 15 minutes of reviewing notes daily will add up the time exam season rolls around. Do not wait until the last minute to cram, study or write an assignment (studies have shown that you are less productive this way.) If you want tips on studying ASAP science does a great job at breaking it down. 

4.    Progress not perfection

Life is a journey. We are going to learn lessons along the way. You may not get it right on the first try but do not get discouraged and give up. Focus on making progress, not perfection. As long as you keep moving forward you will excel.

While change is unavoidable, we can help to minimize the stress associated with transitioning.  You are in control of your destiny and there are no limits to what you can achieve.


A Lesson on Self-Love

Many believe Valentine’s is just another commercial holiday, a way for people to go out and spend money as a means of expressing their love to others. For me growing up, the day was just a family celebration, where we made the time to have a nice home cook meal together and enjoy one another’s company. As I grew older I realized that love has many different meanings, which cannot always be captured in a hallmark card.  Over the past few years, I have taken the time not only to show my family how I appreciate and love them but recently extended my display of affection to my friends. Although I never received a dozen rose, I have always had a happy valentine’s day regardless. But one year, I realized that I had forgotten to show the most important person in my life love. 

When is the last time you showed yourself some Self-Love?

Love comes in many different forms, and while love is love, self-love is important and we should be showing ourselves some T.L.C every day.  So what is self-love and why is it important? Allow me to create an illustration with an analogy that was recently given to me.   

Imagine two individuals are holding a candle. Both individuals want to light the other person’s candle to give them light and make them happy. The only problem is their own flame is not light. How can we expect to light someone else candle if our own flame is not lite? How do you expect to love someone else, if we haven’t taken care of our needs?

Make sure your candle is lite before you lite someone else's. 

Make sure your candle is lite before you lite someone else's. 

Self-love is the act of taking care of our own well-being and happiness. It is the need proceed of being selfish before we can be selfless to others especially those we love. We need to learn to be selfish first before we can be selfless.

You are probably wondering what love, emotions, and self-love have to do with education and learning disabilities. At first, I didn’t make the connection but after going and growing through my experience I realized it is a critical part of the journey of success.

Most individuals with the learning disability are diagnosed at a young age. The challenges students may encounter with their LD can impact their self-esteem and self-confidence from young and continue as an adult. Children build their self-esteem by comparing their abilities with their peers. A student with dyslexia is likely to internalize their problems in reading as a personal attribute and will avoid reading activities.  In my cases, I have always been self-cautious about my writing abilities. I would encounter mental blocks of self-doubt, overthinking situations to the point that I would not write a sentence. (Starting this blog has been an emotional challenge). These negative thoughts that play through our heads as a kid continues into are adulthood and in some case for the rest of our lives.

The only way to get past these mental blocks in our head is to cast it out with self-love. I had to realize that in order to fulfill my goals for Special Compass, I had to show myself some self-love and break past my mental blocks.  My learning disability is a part of me but it does not define who I am. My imperfections are what make me unique and rather than be shy and hide from them I need to embrace them. If I want to help others, I need to help myself first.

In life, we will always have good intentions to do well on to others. But we cannot lite someone else’s candle if our flame is not burning. The journey to success can be challenging and while we are here to support one another, make sure you take care of yourself first give the show some love to you.   

DO's & DON'Ts When Taking The Exam

It is the final full week of October, and if you are like me you may be coming to the end of your mid-term season. Or perhaps it is just starting? Whereever you are in your academic hustle I have a few tips of DO’s and Don’ts to help you slay that grade.

DON’T- Wait Till the Last Minute to study and pull an all nighter.  

DO Plan ahead. The earlier you start studying the better. Studying is not just memorization. You want to allow your mind to develop a deep understanding and strong knowledge of the content. The ultimate test to demonstrate your comprehension is by teaching someone else.

DON’T Review your notes to the very last minute up until you are  in the exam room.

DO Allocate a grace period from studying before your exam. Allow yourself to have a minimum of two hours or twenty-four hours of non-study time before the exam.  Exams bring on a lot of anxiety in students, which can impact your performance. Give yourself time to de-stress. Do an activity you enjoy, get a good night’s rest, and have a healthy meal. To perform well you need to ensure that basic physical, mental and soulful needs are taken care of.

DON’T Come Unprepared. 

DO Have everything you need. This may seem simple but we all been in an exam where someone did not have a pencil or pen. The worst people not having calculators when permitted one. Just come prepared to execute the work all the time. By default always have a pencil and pen and an eraser .

DON’T Start answering questions

DO Read over all the questions of the exam. (Even I struggle with this from time to time) Sometimes we get so anxious that we start writing without fully understanding the question. Story: I had a Shakespeare test, where students were required to analyze a passage from Macbeth more than half the class failed this part of the test because they misunderstood the question.  Tip: ex. And i.e do not mean the same thing. Make sure you know when to follow the example or do exactly as told.

DON’T forget to write your name

DO Write your name first. Again a simple step but many students forget.

DON’T keep the information in your head.

DO Create a ‘cheat sheet’ on the back of your exam. After you written your name, and before reading the questions write down everything that you know that comes to mind in the first few minutes on the back of your exam. As you begin working and reading questions you will begin to second guess yourself on questions or just overthink your answers. Rather than stress yourself out at the moment turn your exam to the back to see the notes you had written down. Chances are the answers you need will be in front of you. This is great if you have to use quotes to support ideas or use equations to solve problems.

DON’T- Just Wing IT

DO: Have a plan on how to attack the exam.  Depending on the format of the exam you may have some sections that are worth more than others or that will require the most time out of you. Plan how much time you will take to answer questions and give yourself at least 15 minutes to review and edit if needed. 

Most important just breath and relax and give it the best you got. After all, it’s only an exam.  Think of how much fun you can have after it is all over!