By Leslie Mateos
Yes, I have a disability, but still have the capability to be who and what I want to be. My disability is nothing big or at least that’s what I say because you can’t see it from the outside. At the age of 14, I was diagnosed with systemic lupus erythematosus. It was something that brought me from being an honors student to a student with an IEP. When the eighth graduation list was posted, my name was nowhere to be found because I was being homeschooled by a teacher who made me feel ashamed of who I was and hurled me into a depression.
Many times she told me I’d have to be homeschooled throughout high school and that probably that would be the highest level of education I’d ever reach. Many times after she left, I cried, thinking everything she had told me was true. Thankfully it wasn’t. After a year of being homeschooled I was able to return to school. I decided to go to Amino Venice Charter School, thinking it was the best option. I was excited and eager to make new friends and to carry all those heavy books once again. I lasted there only one year. I didn’t like having to wake up early to take the bus. “Why suffer when Venice High is just across the street,” I told myself, which how I ended up at Venice High. Time passed quickly, and before I knew it, I was walking the stage. I wished my homeschool teacher was there so she could see everything I had accomplished. I wanted to show her my diploma, show her that I was able to graduate as an honor’s student. I had been able to get my studies back into place.
Now I am student at Santa Monica College majoring in nursing and determined to get my Bachelor’s degree within the next few years. But somehow the story is repeating itself. I was referred to the Department of Rehabilitation office (D.O.R) to get help with school. The D.O.R is a program that “helps” students with disabilities accomplish their goals and take the major they wish to take. I was able to get into the program and I got a counselor, but I have not yet received any help, and the fall semester is almost over. The counselor has not yet approved my major. She keeps repeating that nursing is not the right major for me because of my disability and because of my size. She has tried every gambit to change my mind, telling me that there are other majors close to nursing that would be more suitable for me. She told me she wanted to be a nurse herself but because of her disability, she wasn’t able to major in nursing. Well, I felt sorry for her; nursing just wasn’t for her, but that doesn’t mean it’s not right for me. I worked too hard to work myself out of the depression I was in to allow her to bring me down, to let her tell me I can’t accomplish my dream.
I can see, I can walk, I can run, I can jump. I can even lift heavy things at work. I am perfectly fine and in great condition. I may have a disability, but I still have capability to become a nurse. If I made it through high school, I know I can make it through college and university too. With or without the help of the D.O.R., I am capable of becoming a nurse. I have the capability to be who and what I want to be.
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