Five years ago, I was notified that I would be placed on scholarship probation and was at risk of losing my scholarship. I had barely made it through my freshman year of college, receiving a 2.7 GPA and a 2.9 GPA in my fall and spring semesters, respectively.
I knew this was shit. I was in Gifted, AP classes, and participated in academic clubs as early as elementary school. I was shocked and confused as to how I could do so poorly when I tried as hard as I always did. However, I didn’t study for anything. I didn’t think much of this, because I had never had to study for anything.
I found out that I needed to get a 4.0 GPA in both semesters of my sophomore year (one of which was when I was in Rome) in order to bump my cumulative GPA up high enough to retain my scholarship. If I didn’t, I would have to drop out of college, as the financial burden of downgrading my scholarship was too great for my family to afford.
This motivated me, but I wasn’t sure how to accomplish it.
The same month I was diagnosed with ADHD-C.
It all made sense.
Since then, I have been on the Dean’s List six times. I have also received a 4.0 GPA in five out of the six semesters of graduate school that I have completed.
I have earned a Bachelors degree (with Honors), a Masters degree, and I’m currently working towards my Doctorate.
Throughout this ‘journey’, I have been intentionally open about the obstacles I have faced – as well as my diagnosis, because I think it is highly important to recognize that being successful does not mean being perfect or being a specific type of person.
I know there is a great deal of ignorance and stigma related to ADHD as well. I used to judge ADHD before I knew I had it myself. I feel bad, but I can’t change that now.
What I can change is the discussion.
I share my experience not to brag or gloat, but because I am proud of how I have managed to persevere and pull this off. A diagnosis brought clarity and it also garnered access to the tools I needed to be successful and to own my potential.
I can’t explain what a difference it makes to know that I am not in fact stupid, or a failure, or ‘not cut out’ for higher education. Rather, I struggled because my brain works differently. I have had all of these thoughts previously, and I still sometimes think these things, but I can’t begin to describe how much things have changed since May 2013.
I can’t wait to see where the next 5 years bring me, because today I feel pretty fantastic.