Disabled journalist overcomes discrimination, finds happiness

This freelance writer of 13 years shares how she has overcome physical disabilities and discouragement from others in order to pursue her dreams as a journalist. In her own words:

In the eyes of many, I am not your typical writer, because I am disabled.

I suffered a brain hemorrhage at the age of nine. This left me unable to walk, and unable to use my left hand. From the moment I was taken home in a wheelchair, vocational counselors and even close friends doubted that I would ever make it as a journalist, much less a writer. I had to learn to walk again. I had to master the art of doing everything in a different way, including manipulating a keyboard with one hand, but still, people didn’t think I could make it as a writer.

So why did I choose journalism?
I’ve always been very determined. Despite my disability, I knew that I could do something with my writing abilities. I also believed that dreams can come true. My dream was to become a writer; a full-fledged, college educated writer. Day after day, educators told me I was not intelligent enough to go to school or do anything on my own. If people told me I couldn’t do something, I did the exact opposite. So, instead of listening to educators, I chose the path less taken. I became a journalist.

I sat through innumerable writing and reporting classes. I studied the inverted pyramid, and took any freelance writing gig I could possibly get my hands on. I drove my professors crazy requesting internship after internship.

I landed a few reporting internships and had established myself in the journalism community. People knew me. Sources were calling me to come back and take pictures, or to write more stories. The work was absolutely rewarding. For the first time, I was doing what I loved, and no one could tell me that success was impossible. I was living it, I was there.

Where did my career begin?
I started my journalism career with a small community newspaper in a Baltimore suburb. While working as a reporter, I attended a small community college, and later transferred to Towson University.

I picked journalism not only because I loved writing, but also because it got me out of the house, and into the world. It allowed me to gain knowledge, to be heard. Finally my name was in the headlines.

What challenges have I faced?
Of course, life takes us in many different directions. In 2007, I was working in Washington, DC as a technical writer. Then I lost my job. After a brief lull, I restarted my writing career as a freelance writer. Freelance exchange websites once again made it possible to propel myself into the writing world.

My typical day:
I have been a freelance writer for over thirteen years now. A typical day consists of me powering up my desktop computer and working on my most recent project. All day, I am glued to my computer screen. I spend my mornings weeding through emails and researching my most recent writing subject. I communicate with people on the other side of the world, people from New Zealand, England and the far reaches of Australia.

Discrimination as a disabled journalist:
I am Caucasian. I have, however, been denied jobs. Some don’t think a disabled individual is capable of holding a job. An editor at a big legal newspaper once sent me out the door when he heard I didn’t drive. Who’d ever heard of a disabled reporter?

I decided that questioning why employers discriminated wouldn’t do me any favors. So I simply moved on, knowing full well that something better was waiting around the corner. Ethnicity didn’t matter. I’d been discriminated upon by both men and women of many ethnic backgrounds.

Who doubted me, and what did I learn?
I once had a professor tell me I would never make it as a journalist or a writer. Everyone has an opinion, so I didn’t take it personally. I simply went on and became an assistant editor and then a reporter once again

How did I start out?
Oddly enough, I started my writing career as a greeting card writer. I wrote for a few small greeting card companies, which later led me to write for national magazines.

Time away from work:
In my field, I’ve learned that vacations aren’t always an option. If I have a deadline, it has to be met. All my stories are stored on my personal computer. If I do have the opportunity to get away for a weekend, my husband’s laptop is my best friend. But at times, this doesn’t leave time to truly enjoy a getaway.

Misconceptions about my career:
Many people think being a journalist or freelance writer makes you a celebrity. It helps you make friends, no doubt, but it doesn’t make you famous. Many days are spent in solitude writing quietly from my living room. My job as a freelance writer moves my heart in many ways.

How does writing change my heart?
In my work, I have watched angry businessmen turn into soft spoken colleagues. People who once cussed me out later praised me for my kindness. I’ve seen miracles happen. I once covered a story about a fire at an animal hospital. Amazingly, people stopped their cars to save the animals. Everyone survived. It’s stories like these that make it all worthwhile.

In my career as a freelancer, I have also established myself as a relationship writer. I write about breakups, saving marriages and even finding “the one.”

I speak from experience, because I have found “the one.” Not only did I tie the knot, I have found the perfect marriage between writing and happiness.



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  • Growing up I have suffered from discouragement. People have told me that I couldn’t do something and although they didn’t say it, I knew they were thinking it. I play a musical instrument and along with learning to play my instrument, there were people who told me I wasn’t capable of doing something. Although this may not be a disability, I do suffer from breathing problems. Through sheer effort, will, and dedication, I became top chair of the instrument I played. I excelled in the aspects that I needed to and became the best player that can.

  • I’m not a very outgoing person. In fact, I’ve always been know as the girl that is more of a wallflower than a social butterfly. When I had told one of my teachers that I wanted to major in Anthropology, she had told me that I wasn’t cut out for it. She had explained to me that I was far too shy to be in a field that required me to communicate with others. I was discouraged at first, but I decided that I wouldn’t let someones opinion effect the rest of my life.

  • Personal experiences like this one in particular really inspires me to continue pursuing what I want to do no matter what anyone may think or say. Even though I may not suffer from a disability, I can relate in other ways. Being an African American woman, you already have a standard set for you. People don’t really expect a lot from you so, I made it a goal for myself to work hard and be above the standard. It’s a hard journey but, in the end it’ll all be worth it.

  • Sometimes its hard to believe that this day in age, when we have come so far as a society, we can still judge people because they are different from us. I am not disable, but was also told by my dad many times that I would never become a veterinarian. I am now half way done with my undergrad for pre-vet. Following my dreams hasn’t been easy because of my own blockage. Sometimes I believe those who have doubted me before. However, I am sticking with it and I am glad that you did. Your an inspiration to those who are discourage to make their dreams happen.

  • This story is absolutely amazing and I praise your vulnerability to be able to share it. I am glad you were able to push through all of the negative energy being put on to you and follow your dreams. I relate to being told you don’t belong in a field. I am a Black American currently studying Film, and have had to deal with multiple backhand comments about me being in the program. It is really inspiring to hear how you overcame not only obstacles from other people, but physical obstructions as well.

  • I’m so glad you got to do what you love, regardless of what others expected of you! I’m physically disabled as well, so I find it extremely difficult to find jobs that will work for me and my conditions. I’m also currently a college student, which is difficult considering the, often unrealistic, physical demands that courses, professors, and other students put on you. Ableist work environments can be extremely disheartening, however, I’m learning to love my disabled body, and I’m going to pursue of the career of my dreams with my physical limitations! Someday, I hope all disabled people can do what they love, just like you.

  • Wow! This is amazing! I feel the same way as her. I have a similar dream to be investigative journalist and have been told time and time again that I can’t do it but, I believe that I can. It’s touching and encouraging to see others chase their dreams! It gives me hope that I can also make my dream come true!

  • Your story is so uplifting. Parts of your story truly hit close to home for me.

    I am a 21 year old aspiring actress and musician. I have struggled with Bipolar depression and anxiety for many years and I often find that I doubt my capabilities to find a substantial career path and achieve my dreams. I spend far room much time dwelling on the fact that everyday it is a constant battle. I have to remind myself of the times that people told me that performing would be too challenging for me. I have to remind myself that, despite the fact that people have believed my medical problems would hinder me, I accomplished many great things anyway, and continue to do so.

    We are not defined by our disabilities. They are an aspect of who we are, and we ultimately make the choice as to whether or not they break us down, or drive us forward. You are an inspiration to many people, and I’m so glad you have found such a gratifying career.

  • Your story is so uplifting. Parts of your story truly hit close to home for me. I am a 21 year old aspiring actress and musician. I have struggled with Bipolar depression and anxiety for many years and I often find that I doubt my capabilities to find a substantial career path and achieve my dreams. I spend far room much time dwelling on the fact that everyday it is a constant battle. I have to remind myself of the times that people told me that performing would be too challenging for me. I have to remind myself that, despite the fact that people have believed my medical problems would hinder me, I accomplished many great things anyway, and continue to do so. We are not defined by our disabilities. They are an aspect of who we are, and we ultimately make the choice as to whether or not they break us down, or drive us forward. You are an inspiration to many people, and I’m so glad you have found such a gratifying career.

  • I think this is beautiful and magical. Something like this shows that you can dream and acheive. This is something i think needs to be visible to so many people. as someone who was struggling to find that oppertuity to seek further education because of financial dissability and knowing that dreams can be achieved makes me the person i am. not many know this and this is an incredibl eincident of the realness behind it. Dreams are visions and visons are truth.

  • I love this story because I relate to your passion for journalism on such a close level. Growing up as the child of a single parent in a pretty poor household, I always knew going to college would be hard for me, but I was determined to make it happen anyway — and I did! I am currently at the University of Missouri, and I love studying journalism here. Even with the obstacles I face as a lower-class LGBTQ woman, I know that with hard work, I can make my dreams come true. Thank you for sharing you story. This gives me hope.

  • I was once a journalism major and although I am no longer in that field I still have an insurmountable amount of respect for those who work in Journalism. It takes a great amount of determination and love for the world to make sure that we are properly educated about news and popular culture. Loved your story!

  • Joseph here and I would like to start off by stating what an incredible story this was. Very inspirational in seeing what challenges you had faced and how, with sheer will and persistence, you overcame the naysayers in the world and refused to allow your physical disabilities to hold you back.

    As I grew up, I always liked to write, particularly fiction. For the past three years I have been working on my novels and have been exposed to people’s ridicule and doubt, all of which have never read a single word of my work. They would degrade my writing as venting out my feelings and any research I conducted was, in their words, pointless.

    I didn’t let this get to me, I walked on, continuing in what I love most–writing. I eventually finished my novel, finally had a few test readers, including many students from a writing course and an instructor and as I had hoped, received great feedback. Yes, there are improvements that could be made, but I did what I had sought out to do, and just like you, the doubt of others became irrelevant when our minds and hearts are in the right place.

  • It’s encouraging to know how doors can open for so many people that are willing to fight for their dreams. I know everyone has obstacles to overcome to reach their goals because I’ve been there many times in my life. One of them was when I was trying to find a job for the first time in the US. I’m from Peru, and when I moved to the USA at age 18, I had the hardest time of my life finding opportunities. My English was not good, and that was a tough challenge to overcome. I was always insecure that people would not understand me, and many times I thought it wasn’t even worth it trying to express myself. I lost confidence in myself. It wasn’t only the English speakers I could not understand; it was the country. I didn’t understand the system, thus, for a while, I thought I was not good enough to succeed in this country. Being in a country that you are not able to understand can be overwhelming.
    I knew learning English was the key to success in this country, but I didn’t have the money to get into ESL classes, so I decided to teach myself. I spend months watching YouTube videos and reading English books until I felt ready to go out there and find a job. I didn’t have a car, so I remember walking miles every day, sometimes through the rain, leaving my resume in every store I could. None of them called me. I thought I was a failure for coming to this country, the country of the opportunities, I wasn’t even able to find them.
    After two months of looking for jobs, I got a call to get an interview at Abercrombie at the mall. I was really nervous. I remember researching appropriated words to sound more professional during the interview and practicing all the answers. The interview turned out great. And even though I didn’t know If I did get the job or not, I felt relief. A few days later I got a call from them. I had gotten the job. I remember calling my family back in Peru because they were the ones that believed in me from the beginning. I knew it wasn’t the best job out there; it wasn’t my dream job or the best salary, but for me at that moment, it was the proof I needed to realize I could reach my goals.
    This experience taught me it’s not about being the best compared to others, but rather about comparing myself to me a couple of months ago, and see how much improvement I have made so far. I proved myself I could do it. I just had to find opportunities around me and try hard. I work for Abercrombie as a sales associate for two years. I made lots of mistakes, but most importantly, I learned a lot. Now looking for jobs, I feel more confident, more prepared and I’m no longer afraid of making mistakes. I now raise my voice when I express my ideas and I don’t let my negatives define my life. I have a new approach to life and opportunities and I think I am capable of doing whatever I set in my mind if I work hard enough.

  • I hear your message loud and clear, having a disability is
    hard enough mentally and physically; then to find something you love doing and having
    more obstacles to overcome because societal discriminations. I can absolutely
    relate to your struggle with one difference, I was deployed oversea, when my vehicle
    was struck with IED’s. The result was a Severe TBI with shrapnel burns and other
    residuals. I too had to begin again but at age 23, walking, talking and
    thinking. The years of speech, cognitive and physical therapy tried to put Humpty
    Dumpty back together again but the cracks still remained. The Epilepsy, Photo
    and Phono sensitivities, PTSD and TBI made it almost impossible as the medical community
    saw it, to live a somewhat normal life; but I saw it very differently. I took
    the NOs as a motivator to commence “Operation Restoration!”

    At first, I wanted to be restored, to exactly the guy I was
    before being injured but with time realized that I needed to grieve over the
    loss of who I was, for whom I would become. Easy right? Talk about harder than
    trying to convince a rich person to be poor. Although the odds were heavily stacked against
    me, I began traveling to remote destinations looking for answers on how to
    reprogram the mind, how to have more self-control and how to concentrate on
    just one task/item. It lead me to India, China, Hong Kong, Korea, Japan, Colombia,
    and to many other countries and states. What I didn’t find was an answer, until
    I went back to school for fitness, I figured that I needed to be whole again.
    After starting a BS in Fitness Management, I took a Psychology class. Wow, was
    this a new beginning! Before I knew it, I had a BS and MS in Psychology; which
    brings us to current.

    What a battle that was, spending every penny I had on tutors
    and aids, facing the possibility of losing everything. I lost my wife, myself and my
    military career and everyone outside of my circle doubting me but I couldn’t fall
    a part now, I had to keep going, keep fighting; even if it meant fighting myself
    mentally. Yet again, the struggle was worth the sacrifice. I finally was accepted
    to a Doctorates Program in psychology but my road doesn’t end here, and to
    those who think that they cannot or are told as much. Look ahead of yourself and
    focus on what will bring your life satisfaction, not temporary but long term
    success. Have faith in yourself and believe in what you’re doing.

    Then, JUST GO AND DO IT!!!!

  • I am currently attending university as a journalism and mass communications major. When I was in 10th grade, I was diagnosed with anorexia and depression, and I struggled to find anything to make me feel alive again. When I got my first part-time job at the age of 16, they refused my doctor’s notes in regards to the amount of physical labor I could do, due to my anorexia. My friends and family got annoyed with me and I felt myself distancing myself from everyone. It felt like no one was taking me seriously.

    I found passion in writing, and I got very interested in writing. I thought it was incredible to be able to spark conversation and inform people about what is going on in our world. Because I am an Asian-American female who is also bisexual and suffers from mental illnesses, I found that it was rare to see stories from people like me being represented in the media. I want to change that. I think that there needs to be more diversity and a larger variety of voices being heard. People need to know that they’re not alone, and that there are other people out there that are just like them, going through the same things.

    I think it is incredible that you were able to overcome these difficulties to pursue your passions. I will continue to fight to make sure that we don’t have to feel alone.

  • This is a very inspiring story. When I came out as transgender, I was very much afraid of the discrimination I would face when interviewing for jobs. Not only could I be subject to sexism, but also transphobia and homophobia. It was very scary. But when I consider the life I lived before transitioning, to the one I’m living now, as a woman; I am much less worried. I think that before it would’ve been harder for me to get a job because despite being a “straight, white heterosexual male,” I was depressed and borderline suicidal. I had no motivation, no drive. I hadn’t the mental or emotional capability to earn a college degree and land a career. Now, though the social privileges I once had have been taken from me, I do possess those abilities and I am more determined than ever to achieve my goals.

    I am a communications major. I’m not sure what exactly I would like to do with that degree, but I know I’ll figure it out somewhere down the line. At this point I could improve my social skills. I am a shy and introverted person and not too savvy on social cues, but I am determined. I see potential in myself and I will not quit. Even a terrified introvert like me can learn to speak well and articulate ideas and express herself with confidence.

    I’m glad you have been able to find the strength to make your dreams come true. This shows me that anything is possible. Even for someone like me… I have a place in this world, and I will fight for it if I have to!

  • I’m really glad i chose this article even though I’m not disabled but i love this article because of the motivation its brings with it. i call it motivation because i wasn’t the one that was disabled i had a little brother that was. He couldn’t walk, talk, or eat what we eat. every night he had to sleep with a machine just so he could breath sad yea i know. One he had passed away and not only was i sad because i lost him but also because he could never be able to do the thing we do everyday.

    I’m a football player i use him ass motivation to keep going every day when every someone tries to tell me i cant do something i just work harder to show i can do it. One reason i think i could never give up or quit is because i know my brother never got that chance so its like he is living through me and i cant let him down. No mater what i hear or face every day i will always keep going.

    So i say to this I’m glad to see someone disabled trying to stay with their dream and never letting someone get in the way of that. People are always going to have something to say as long as we live all we can do is brush it off. Les Brown says “giving up on your dream is creating spiritual suicide.” “So when life tries to knock you down try to land on your back because if you can look up you can get up.”

  • A disability is often used to refer to individual functioning, including physical impairment, sensory impairment, cognitive impairment, intellectual impairment, mental illness, and various types of chronic diseases. Disability is ageless and genderless, crossing all cultures; yet, those fortunate to be born free of its burdens, secretly live in its antechamber. Disability is an egalitarian alchemist that can transform the life of anyone in a second—there is no singular face of disability.

    Ours is a society that functions on the freedoms of variety, so why is it that the diverse needs of those who are disabled suffer so little choices in the way they define
    themselves? The common rhetoric embraces the praxis of tolerance towards those who are differently-abled—rather than celebrating those differences. In her autobiography, In My Dreams I Dance, Anne Wafula Strike writes, “When you have a disability, knowing that you are not defined by it is the sweetest feeling” (p .79). Empowerment is born of the
    freedom to choose one’s identification; it is the fountainhead that shapes
    one’s existence.

    I was so moved by this story and the writer’s resilience helped her overcome adversity and define life on her own terms.

  • I enjoy reading and learning about others like you who are disabled, who are told they cannot do something and they do it regardless of what others think of them. It makes me happy to see how determined you are, and all that you can accomplish if you set your mind to reach your goals. I’m not disabled but I do relate to you in the sense that I’ve always been seen as the youngest child of my family. I didn’t really imagine attending College in the US (I’m from Venezuela), but I was blessed to be given this opportunity and am now trying to do my best in school to earn high grades, become a leader within my community, and most importantly, find my passion, and discover who I am in the process. The more I continue in life with faith and positivity, the more I am convinced that I can achieve anything I set my mind to.

  • Around two years ago I suffered career ending injuries. It took a year or healing before I realized that I wouldn’t be able to return back to work in full capabilities any time soon. Being that I live(d) on a small island and that word of mouth is a big part of how you get work this ended my decade long career. I couldn’t find work and I know that my injury was the main reason for this.

    The doctor said that I would heal eventually, but it would take a couple of years at least. This was not acceptable to me, I have a family of 3 children to raise. Instead I accepted that I would have to start a new career I began to focus on what I wanted to go to school for years ago before I started my career path. I put all of my mental energy into studying computer science while maintaining my exercises that I learned in physical therapy

    Over the last year I managed to finish my associates which I had been working on part time over the last decade and endured much physical and financial pains in the process. I also had to endure a lot emotionally, I had relatives and peers who treated me as though I were lazy or faking the pain.

    The injuries still continues to limit me physically, but the therapy is helping a lot. Though I am often in pain, I know that it is not as bad as it used to be, I recover quicker, and I am getting stronger.

    Currently I am enrolled in a CS bachelors distance course program thanks to the financial and emotional support of my wife.

  • I can relate to this article in similar ways, the first one is being discriminated because
    English was not my first language.
    I had others tell me that I was never going to succeed in this country because of the language barrier and also being a minority. For me having the same determination and mind set to succeed had lead me to be where I am today. My plan is to continue my education into a master program and hope to reach my ultimate dream as a Family nurse Practitioner. Your story has given me a lot of encouragement,

  • I can easily relate to this
    article. I can relate in various ways, such as having physical issues, having
    discriminating acts against me, having people talk down to me, and etc…; but most
    of all, I can relate to you as a writer who has a passion to write. I am in the process of writing a book right
    now and I am so excited about it. Most
    of the excitement is anticipating how it will greatly affect others in a
    positive way. Your article is very
    encouraging and I truly enjoyed reading it.
    I pray that you will continue to accomplish great things by the gift of
    writing that has been placed in you.

  • I can easily relate to this article. I can relate in various ways, such as having physical issues, having discriminating acts against me, having people talk down to me, and etc…; but most of all, I can relate to you as a writer who has a passion to write. I am in the process of writing a book right now and I am so excited about it. Most of the excitement is anticipating how it will greatly affect others in a positive way. Your article is very encouraging and I truly enjoyed reading it. I pray that you will continue to accomplish great things by the gift of writing that has been placed in you 🙂

  • I know what it is like to be his shoes. I have a disability too, it may not be something you can physically see but I have Autism. I had people in the past trying to stop me from attending college. But it didn’t stop me. I learned life is hard but face the challenges to reach your goal.

  • I am disabled also, but I’m pursuing a teaching degree. I have had many people say that I can’t do it because I am visually impaired. I also don’t let someone tell me I can’t do someting. I will turn around and show them that I can. I am very determined also. I love to prove people wrong about something. I enjoy showing someone that i can do what ever I set out to do. I have also had people tell me that I can’t do a job because of my disability. All different types of people have said this to me and I just ignor them and go on with my life.

  • I’m looking for a journalist that would like to write an article about discrimination of a person with anxiety by state employees from vocational rehabilitation that do not understand the diagnosis. The primary worker back charted 4 years in some cases and has an incorrect diagnosis listed. An alternate worker informed the student that a school does not need to provide accommodations and could deny entry to the school based on the disability. The district manager met with the student and an attorney but refused to look at all the documentation they had with them including letters of reference, grades, doctor’s and therapist letters, and samples of work. The agency that is supposed to oversee this department failed to call at scheduled times, closed the case without notice or even responding to inquiries…. and it goes on and on for over a year. I want to get the word out because if the people who work with those with disabilities do not understand the disabilities, needs and the ADA law or 504 accommodations then isn’t the battle already lost?? please respond to abbrielle@hotmail.com

  • I relate to this so much i was in a car wreck that flipped 5 and 1/2 times which left me with some major PTSD and bone pains that can not be explained. People do not understand how this has effected me in a way that it has. My Anxiety levels are out the roof if i do not take medicine for it and everyone always say your fine it is just in your mind.

    It just bugs me that people can not take there self out of your situation. They cant personally know what is going on in your body and in your mind. I have had a lot of friends and family tell me that i want make it in college because of what has happened to me. I am now in my second year of college and i will hopefully be in my program in a year. I have learned that i can overcome any obstacle that is in front of me. Thanks for the encouragement of this post it will help me to keep pushing.

  • I Have a son with down syndrome so I am very familiar with disabilities. No one will ever understand the challenges you face when your kid has a disability because it’s a lot of very hard work. If you can’t make time to take him to his appointments like for therapy he misses out on so much. Yet to see him overcome obstacles like using sign language to ask for things is an amazing thing to watch.I love watching that daily smile and wish I could get inside his head just to see what it is he’s thinking about so I could share his happiness with the world.

  • I was born with cerebral palsy. When I was 12 years old I wanted to be a teacher. I worked hard and against the odds I made it. I taught elementary school from 1998 – 2010. In that time I even went on to get 2 master degrees in education. Just my presence and getting to know me, helped my students view other people in a new light. Many a time, I would over hear one of my students talking to another student at recess about me saying, “That’s Ms. Wyatt. Leave her alone. She’s cool”. Everyone once in awhile I would even over hear my students explaining to other students about people with disabilities being able to do anything. Unfortunately, the economy crumbled and I suddenly found myself over qualified for teaching and under qualified for other careers. So I went back to school again to switch careers. I am now learning about Information Technology and while I am enjoying it a lot, I am finding I have to over come obstacles there too. Education is mainly filled with women teachers, but IT is filled with male professionals. So I’m truly mergining into the “man’s world”. Female and disabled, too. But I’m doing it. 🙂

  • It is articles like these that make me understand that anyone can do anything if they have the determination and mindset to do it. Being a young African American women, I know exactly what it feels like to be discriminated against. I have been refused jobs, looked down upon by teachers and classmates, and even been the subject of racial antagonism. However I know that there is nothing that could be back from my dream as a forensic scientist. The woman in this article should be praised because she has overcome discrimination of another kind than I have faced yet has fulfilled her dream, found love, and grasped happiness.

  • Being a young African American woman I have been racially
    discriminated against many times but this story does not focus on racial
    discrimination but instead decimation on those with disabilities. Even though
    our circumstances differ, I know what it feels like to have someone look at you
    and instantly make assumptions about your capabilities, work ethic, education
    and so on. But let us not be discouraged stories like this reassure me that I
    can make a difference and that I have gone down the right path in education and
    career. I graduated with my B.S in May 2012 majoring in Speech Language
    Pathology and I am now a graduate student majoring in Early Childhood Special
    Education. Although I will be working with children and not adults (as in this
    case) it is my mission to build confidence and advocate for people with
    disabilities. I believe that I can make a difference in a child’s life through
    my work and one thing that I am dedicated to most is letting them know that they
    are capable of achieving anything! Often times children with disabilities are
    not held to the same standard as typically developing kids, I believe that
    being an advocate and educating people on the “person first” approach will make
    a huge difference. A person is not defined by their disability or differences,
    but a person is defined by their personality, their cheerful smile, their
    strong work ethic and their caring heart.

  • After reading this article, not only was I able to reflect upon my own obstacles but I have become inspired to strive for all that my heart desires. I am able to relate to this article personally and understand the meaning of perseverance and courage.I have found many instances in my life where I was told that I would not be able to do something.

    Perhaps the most crucial and significant instance was when I was diagnosed with arthritis at such a young age. I have been dancing ever since the tender age of 7 and have attended numerous dance classes and competitions. Dancing had become my passion and gave me the most joy in the world. However in my teen years my bones started to hurt and I felt the aches and pains of a 79-year-old. I could not believe this was happening to me;now when I engaged in the activity that gave me the most happiness, it gave me the most pain. I became very sad and discouraged. However, I knew dancing was my talent and my love and I would not let anything stop me from doing what I loved. Thus I complied with medicine and kept active and followed all the tips from the doctor to help keep my body in the most normal state possible. Although it was difficult at first, I used dance as my motivation.

    From the article I see that positive results does not come easily or quickly. However one must start small and take each step carefully to eventually reach their goals. I have found this true in my situation also,because It took me almost a year to regain my bone strength.

    I believe if we genuinely and sincerely feel a connection to our goals then we can surely attain them and pursue our desires.

  • Having a learning disability since I was young, it was always hard to learn in
    school. I felt that everyone doubted me and the thoughts that I wouldn’t
    accomplish anything devastated me.I later on broke free from those thoughts and learned to not listen to people unless they really did support me. When I was reading this article, I found many similarities between the author and myself. Knowing that I’m not the only one that has gone through difficult times in my life keeps me going and makes me happy & proud for both the author and myself because there always is hope.

  • While my disability is not a physical one, I can relate
    to this author. All too often those of us with disabilities are told that our
    goals in life and even career choices are unobtainable. While this may be a way
    for counselors and educators to save us from a potential failure, their words
    can be very hurtful. On the other hand, at times, these same words can serve as
    an inspiration to overcome barriers by those with commitment and dedication to
    their goals. I tip my hat to this author for not allowing potential “limitations”
    to keep her from reaching the stars.

    In addition, I would also like to comment on the path
    in which this author chose to obtain her goals. I did not have great grades in
    high school. I never took the SATs or the ACTs. I always thought that I was not
    smart enough for college. Upon graduation, many of my classmates went on to the
    university and I went to a minimum wage job while taking a few classes here and
    there at the local community college.

    I never dreamed that those classes would assist me in
    achieving the academic self-esteem I needed to propel myself into the
    university level. All too often
    community colleges are overlooked, but they are important stepping stones, not
    only for students with disabilities but for all individual who seek to better
    themselves with an education.

  • After reading this story, I found some
    similarities that tied me profoundly to the author. We both have the
    belief that dreams can come true if we pursue them with courage,
    sacrifice, and effort. My belief that dreams can come true is so
    intense that the message to my fellow students in my high school
    graduation was to never stop dreaming. I believe dreams can lead us
    far even though some people might try to discourage us based on race,
    color, ethnicity, etc.

    As a senior, I experienced the racism
    from other students who thought a Chinese student could not be the
    salutatorian of the class. My will to always confront barriers is
    what kept me moving forward toward the direction of my dreams. I
    worked so hard to get good grades in all my classes and at the end,
    the news that I was going to be the next salutatorian was rewarding.
    This episode of my life proved to me that dedication and effort are
    crucial when someone wants to achieve a dream. As the author did, I
    followed that voice in my head that told me what I wanted.

    Achieving what I want has not come
    easy because I have faced many hardships while carrying out my
    post-secondary education at Penn State University Park. I have faced
    the hardship of learning a new language. As a Spanish speaker, I have
    been looked down upon for not being a fluent English speaker. Though
    I have to struggle more in my English courses, I have successfully
    passed them with a lot of dedication. I sincerely had no free time in
    my first semester of college. I was always trying to improve my
    writing skills for my English class, the hardest class I had to take
    due to the English level required.

    My life is fulfilled with dreams.
    Every single day, I struggle and pursue them, disregarding the
    pessimistic society we sometimes experience. Even though hardships
    are always part of life, I believe they can be overcome with
    dedication and effort. There is nothing we cannot do if we believe.
    Believe that you can do it, as the author and I did, and I guarantee
    you that you will be able to achieve whatever you propose to

  • Although I am not disabled I can completely understand the need and intense drive to write. I am going to school or writing and nothing could stop me. It amazes me how much strength you have to power through obstacles and stick to your dreams. I hope to have that same mind set when obstacles come into my path.

  • i am disabled as well i became a dancer for a group called the miracle dancer and we dance on TV to raise money for other disabled children but before that people always told me i couldn’t do anything regular people could do but i proved them wrong i was even a cheerleader

  • Discrimination is still prevelant in our society despite the strides we have made towards equality. This journalist is truely an example of a rarity. As a freelancer myself I find it hard to simply be a women in an industry dominated by men. To think that she can flourish not only being the least favored sex but also being disabled is truely inspiring. I hope to see more of this in the future.

  • This story is true to my own heart! As a parent of a child that has Cerebral Palsy it gives me strength to continue to guide and nurture my son to achieve whatever he can! Just because a person has a disability it does not mean they cannot succeed at things in life! The doctors told us my son would never be able to even feed himself and we never gave up and neither did he! There should be more stories such as this to inspire others with disabilities!!

  • I find her story extremely admirable for her determination to succeed, regardless of her disability and what others told her. There are many with and without a disability who don’t even try to attain their goals and just slip through life hoping a miracle will happen, while she worked hard through her struggle to succeed. I can relate to her story in the sense of not giving up, no matter what. My struggle wasn’t as extreme as hers, I don’t have a disability and I’m perfectly healthy, yet I still considered giving up, which is unacceptable. Sure I was bullied and was also told I couldn’t achieve my dreams, but that’s no excuse to give up. I find her an inspiration, and now I know to never give up and always think of her when I even consider it.

  • Going to incredible lengths in the pursuit of happiness, that is something we can all understand. For many years I lived in a house that was not a home with a women whom made me feel worthless and inept everyday for years. As angry as I was and as much as I tried to fight my circumstance, it seemed it was my fate and that nothing could possibly change it. I was powerless, penniless, and utter devoid of hope. Not to long ago though, I learned the most valuable lesson life has yet taught me: Everything changes.

    One day I discovered I would very soon be living alone with this woman and I knew right then that I would not be able to bear it. So I changed my thinking. Instead of drowning in my hopelessness, I evaluated my rage and fear. As powerful and motivating as they were, they were also crippling. As humans we are too skilled at adaption. We have this notion that we can endure anything, and thus we must. But just because you can endure something, that does not mean you have to. So, I decided that I didn’t want to be angry anymore and I refused to be treated poorly by anyone ever again.

    I left that woman and that house. I moved to a land of sunshine, sand, and possibility. I didn’t know it was possible to be so content. I’ve grown so much, seen so many beautiful things, and met some truly remarkable people. Some wounds are too deep to ever fully heal, but scars are not crippling; they are our constant reminders of all we have overcome.

    I bear these scars upon my flesh. And upon my flesh my story.

    We all have something to overcome, and once we do, nothing will ever seem quite so difficult again.

  • The title drew me to the story instantly, obviously because
    I’m an aspiring journalist. Drained and stressed out from schoolwork, when I
    have time to do anything else, I look for inspiration. Little did I know that I’d
    find it here, through the carefully written words of a working professional in
    the field who has overcome her disability and proved those who discouraged her

    I do not have physical disabilities, but in reading the
    story, I found striking similarities between the author’s experiences and mine.
    The author said, “If people told me I couldn’t do something, I did the exact
    opposite.” That statement made me ponder, my memories traveling back to a quiet
    school day afternoon in the office of one of my journalism professors.

    At that time, I was a struggling junior, having transferred
    from a local community college to what my friends call the “Big Girl College.” Having
    a 4.0 GPA was a lot easier there and I found myself puzzled in all the advanced
    material thrown onto my lap on top of the journalism department’s throw-the-students-into-the-real-world
    type attitude with coursework. Having been a good student throughout college
    until that point, I was trying whatever I could to achieve a good grade, but
    then life happened. Big speed bumps, little speed bumps. Speed bumps are okay,
    unless you’re speeding.

    Well, I guess I was, because I’ve become so depressed and
    that had been my disability, although not so literal. After months of
    struggling, the professor called me into his office for a private meeting. Now,
    he did not necessarily tell me directly that I will never be a journalist. He strongly
    implied it, though. He mentioned that I was not in a psychological state to
    pursue this career and that I most likely will not make it.

    That’s when real world kicked in for me – when someone told
    me I couldn’t do it. I thank the competitive spirit within me that wanted to
    prove him wrong, to make it as a journalist. I got my act together and started
    pushing harder, reminding myself of my goal daily. But even now, I get swarmed
    in my own doubts and secretly think of giving up. I imagine it would be easier
    if I picked some other more available and less competitive careers for me to
    pursue. But that’s not what I want.

    So today, after reading this inspirational story of someone
    a lot like me who has made her standing in the world of journalism, I decide
    that I will free myself of judging eyes or discouraging comments, and give it a
    little more than all of my energy to become a good reporter and competent

  • I can relate to this story as an undocumented student. Just as the disabled journalist I have also been discriminated by many schools and scholarship donors. Schools have discriminated against me by not letting me go to their school because I wasn’t born here. I am very qualified for any school or scholarship because I have a 3.98 GPA but the doors are closed for me becasue I wasn’t born here.

  • I grew up in Atlanta, Georgia in a
    normal, middle class family. My parents were always pushing me to strive for
    better things by achieving simple objectives like earning good grades in
    school. My perspective on life was
    crafted by my mom’s hardworking attitude and by the long hours that I
    would spend waiting for my dad to get home from working the night shift at the
    local bread factory. Our bed was this
    sort of blanket cushioned by covers that were neatly adorned with this floral
    like pattern and a mixture of colorful pillows that separated the wooden floor
    from our improvised mattress. It was my paradise.

    I grew up in a neighborhood filled
    with kids that looked just like me, kids who didn’t know a word of English but
    were quickly assimilating to a new cultural lifestyle. I learned English quickly after being
    constantly teased by my peers and humiliated by teachers who took my inability
    to understand English as child ineptitude. Kids would make fun of my accent;
    one of my teachers even threw away my homework after I forgot to write my name down
    on the assignment. I tried telling her but the words wouldn’t come out of my mouth
    and I was unable to put my emotions into concrete syllables. As I grew older my struggle became more and
    more difficult. I was discriminated not because I was Latino but because I was
    undocumented. At first it didn’t get to me but as I came into the age of materialistic
    lust, the teenager in me wanted to earn money, drive a car and travel the
    country. My status prevented me from doing so; actually it got so bad that the
    state of Georgia banned me from its top universities even though I met all of the
    requirements needed to be accepted.

    The summer of 2011 changed my
    life. I became an activist for immigrant
    rights and my passion for writing was stimulated by my dedication to pass the
    Dream Act. My struggle and status led to my immersion into the world of the
    English language. Ironically, the language that created my struggle became my
    prime tool and mechanism of defense. I am currently attending Armstrong
    Atlantic State University where I plan to major in English and Spanish. I am
    fulfilling my dreams to become a journalist. I am an 18 year old kid on the
    pursuit of happiness. I AM UNDOCUMENTED AND UNAFRAID.

  • I love the way she took control of her life and did not let mishaps stop her from accomplishing her dreams. This inspirational story reminds of a personal experience of mine, involving my grandmother. Last summer, my grandmother suffered a stroke which caused her right side of her body to be partially paralyzed. However, with her determination and resilience she was able to recover and walk again with the aid of a cane. These stories serve as a reminder to not take everything for granted and to realize just how lucky I am to be living the life that I live.

  • I love the way she took control of her life, and did not let her disability hold her back from doing what she wanted to do. She could have easily taken the easy way out but instead she decided to stand up and fight, and though it all she found her self.

  • I like how her disability didn’t let her overcome her passion to become a freelance writer.This shows me that you must really fight for something you want and never give up regardless of other peoples opinions. I admire her dedication and her personality that she lets on this interview. I too have been discouraged by others but I’m determined to reach my goals and prove those who said I wouldn’t be able to go college that I can.

  • This story shows that regardless of a person’s disability if you set your mind to it goals can be achieved. If becoming a writer is your passion then focus on the abilities that you can do rather than what you can not do. I think this is why this writer was able to achieve her dreams of becoming a freelance writer. Life is too short to do things that you do not want to do in life so it is great that she has found ‘the one’ and is happy with her decisions in life. I am sure over coming discrimination can not be easy when a person face’s it, but if a person can rise above they will always over come it making them a better person at the end of the day. It is so important to take all of life’s lessons and teach them to others and there is not better way than to write about experiences to help make the world a better place.

  • When a person decides to become a writer. He or she has also excepted the fact that writng certain types of book or articles comes with a journey. Sometimes the journey that he or she embrace can be short and around the house or long and around the world. With writing mines has been both . I first started with an invitation to Stanford and for personal reason i could not attend and now granted the opportunity to reach out and possibly turn my hobbies into an income has me excited.

  • This is a very touching story, despite the disadvantages one can still come out on top and be successful if they just put in the hard work!

  • As a writer, I really connected with the story. Your passion to say what needs to be said is moving and it really means a lot to me that someone could get through so much and still find the courage to write. I have long worked with special needs children and I find it really hard when their limitations are perceived by the outside world as incompetence when children who might have autism may be even more competent for certain jobs. I really admired how you didn’t let your disability get in the way of what you wanted to do and I look forward to sharing this story with the kids.

  • Even though I do not have a disability, I can relate to this store as a black person because of the color of my skin and the place I grew up. At a young age my race was a big factor to how people treated me. It effected me in school, in public, with my friends also when I played sports.
    Instead of making the team because I was good I would be just a black face to show that the school was not racist. Because of not playing and the way the coaches treated me as well as the players and the lack of support at home I started to feel like I was no good and accepted that role as a bench warmer as the desire to play ball boiled up instead of me.
    By high school I stopped playing. I end up going to college and would go to all the sporting events etc and instead of me there was a little bit of hope that I could still play. Eventually I convinced myself to go out for the softball team. Everyone told me that I was crazy to be a walk on for a college team especially since I had not played since middle school.
    I made the team and I was not the best player or even at the college level but daily I worked hard because i enjoyed playing; I worked hard because I knew it was a blessing to be out there and I knew that I made the team for a reason.
    My team did not have faith in me at first, nor did my parents or even my coach, it was a struggle to gain respect and confidence daily. The team knew that I was not the best but they all saw the hard work that I put in and the attitude that I bring each day.
    I got better and ended up with a scholarship to play the following year. I fought against adversity, and negative views from people and in the end it made me a better person.

  • This is such a heartwarming story. It’s great to hear that someone who was always looked down upon her whole life could overcome all the obstacles that she faced. How she overcame these obstacles is so inspirational and, even though she was often told that she could not do it, she persevered and reached her dreams. It is great to hear someone’s personal story about how passionate they are about what they do, and how they were able to reach their dreams by never giving up and believing in themselves.

  • I love this story because it offers hope. I’m a Public Relations major and love writing. I’ve had many teachers and people say they love my writing while others may have a different opinion. I can appreciate the fact that the writer keeps it moving despite what others say. I do not have a physical disability so I cannot relate to the writer in that way, but I have faced numerous adversities in my life. I have chosen to go for my dreams and I’m glad I’m not the only one out there that feels so passionate about achieving their goals. This is definitely a story of strength and passion.

  • Hi I am disabled as well I have fibromyalgia and arthritis very bad. I had pursued a career in nursing until I injured my lower back, and had to wait for surgery, the fibromyalgia set in. So for awhile I pursued writing until I decided that psychology was what I wanted to do. Now I’m on disability, but my doctor approves this route for me, because I can sit in a big comfy chair all day! I always helped my friends with parent and boyfriend problems when I was a teenager. I am getting my Bachelor’s degree in Psychology right now.

  • I can relate to this story. I am also disabled and have been discouraged by others. I am 41 years old and a year and a half ago decided to return to school. I hate being labeled as disabled because it controls your life. People automatically think that you are incapable of doing anything meaningful. This story has encouraged me to continue going to college and get that dream job that I want.

  • This story is touching in so many ways. Mainly this story strikes a chord in my heart because very often many of us with no disability whether in be physical or mental lose faith and hope in ourselves and our dreams. This is simply because we cant take criticism, constructive or not, or we just get plain lazy and don’t want to put the time in to master our craft. here you have someone with an actual disability, and all odds against her and she completely changed what many people consider to norm with respect to “reporting,” while living her dream and finding her destiny. This has inspired a lot of drive back into me. I am so humbled by reading this article.

  • This story is beautiful because it shows that one must fight for what they want and believe in. I am an artist; and in this time and day many people like to tell me discouraging things and give me odd looks about my passion. I find that very interesting and motivating at the same time. I am educated and happy, that is all that matters. Helping others to reach a place of happiness doing something they love is something I wish I could do more often.

    You cannot bring about prosperity without discouraging thrift.
    Paul Getty

  • Nothing is more encouraging than witnessing the mistreated rising above.
    First and foremost, I was particularly drawn to this story because it pertains to Journalism.
    Though I am a Communications major, my heart belongs to my minor-Journalism. This major/minor combination would appease my curiosity for communication and satisfy my love of writing, speaking and sharing ideas. 

    Reading a moving story such as this one gives me hope. It encourages me to follow my ambitions. Her story acts as a confirmation; it lets me know that I too can make it, if i try. 

    We all are faced with challenges – that’s life. How we deal with those challenges and what we do to overcome is what makes this life worth living. This article has shown me that if you succumb to discrimination or oppression, you will remain the downtrodden. But if you decide to not listen to those doctors who say “you may never walk again…” or the professor who insists “you will never be a journalist…” you take back your power and enable yourself to achieve your dreams.

  • This is not just inspiring to persons of disability, but to every human being. Just the writer rightly said, everybody has an opinion as to what one can do and what one can’t do. All one needs to do is to look at the positive lens of every negative comment made to you by others and take inspiration from that.

  • This is an inspiring story. I too am disabled and many people have told me that because of my visual impairment that I will never become a successful linguist. Just because a disabled person may struggle with some tasks does not mean that they cannot persevere and achieve their goals. I am definitely motivated by this story that shows disabilities can be overcome and dreams can be attained.

  • This story is inspiring! There are so many people today that have disabilities and continue to do the work they love. While I do not have a permanent disability, I have had several instances of short term disability that were trying and difficult to overcome. With my limited knowledge of a permanent disability, the small disabilities that I have encountered have shown me that there is room for anyone ANYWHERE in any career field they choose.

  • I love this story. Many people use being disabled as a cruch and excuse for not accomplishing, but she used it to push her harder to succeed. This world would be a better place with more people like this.

  • I am a disabled mother and can not return to a normal working environment, so I picked myself up and enrolled in school to become a Psychologist and work in an abnormal environment working my own hours in my own private office. This has always been my dream now I am taking steps to fulfill my dream to reality. Thank you for your story, it is very encouraging.

  • I love stories like this, they warm my heart. I intern and volunteer
    at Goodwill industries, for that reason. I hear success stories form people
    with barriers to employment and I like knowing I am a part of that. I am an
    instructor for the “Maximize my potential” class in volunteer in the jobs
    resources. I assist people with all types of barriers.

    It is a shame that even today we acquaint a disability with
    lack of intelligence. Congrats to anyone who overcomes this barrier. It’s not
    easy to fight the negativity and a lot of people give in. I love it when the negativity
    looses and in this case looses big.

  • I glory in your spunk! I, too, had people tell me I’d never make it as a reporter, but I did, and still love every minute of it. Now, at the age of 86 I’ve had my editor tell me I cannot cover any more stories because I am disabled and have to have a neighbor drive me to meetings. I’ve worked part time for that newspaper for many years and have won state and nation awards. If all else fails, I intend to wave the Americans With Disabilities Act.
    Do you have any suggestions? I need that job! Social Security only goes so far.
    Thank you,
    Mary Lou

  • Hey its shell,
    This is absolutely amazing I love it. People are so stupid telling that you would never make it as a journalist or a writer, I mean look at you now you told them sista lol well I love ya

    Shelley <3