The first time I walked in Ann Vidovic’s office I remember feeling an immediate feeling of relief. I had spent the last few years trying to explain to people how hard it was for me to test in a group setting, this statement was almost always followed by a nod of sympathy that I knew was hard for other people to really understand. Of course! No one likes taking tests but how do you explain to someone the crippling anxiety of your mind going completely blank when you know you studied all week for that test?
When I walked into Ann’s office, I didn’t need to explain. She began reading my tests out loud to me so that I could process the questions verbally. She read the questions in a calm clear voice that made me forget that I was even testing. I knew these answers. I had studied this material. I just needed to hear these questions spoken to me. This incredibly simple change in the way I tested made all the difference for me.
In addition to meeting with Ann on test days, I spent many hours in the tutoring center with student tutors and Testing Center Coordinator, Elizabeth Gillman. The first few times I went I was a little shy and didn’t stay long. But the more often I went, the more I realized that some of the top scoring students in my class were showing up there as well. Elizabeth and the student tutors went through equations with us on the marker board as many times as we needed. By the end of the semester, I felt really close with the community at the tutoring center and felt as comfortable there as I did in my own living room. It was an environment completely free of judgment, you could ask whatever question you wanted and be met with someone who could walk you through it.
My path is similar to many first generation college students while navigating college. My parents were fully supportive of me going to college but there was only so much support they could offer in terms of finding resources within the college. There were times in my freshmen year of college that my inner voice questioned if I was really college material, am I smart enough? How many I going to get through all this math and science?
Now I would ask any college freshmen, do you have a desire to learn? Then you are college material. You can do it, don’t be afraid to reach out for resources when you need them. Remember that everyone needs help and everyone struggles. For example; Walt Disney was fired from his first newspaper job for “lacking imagination”, Albert Einstein didn’t speak until he was four years old, and twelve publishers rejected J.K Rowling’s Harry Potter manuscript. Do not give up when you’re facing a difficult situation, switch up your approach and reach out. There are people waiting to help you.
Today I am thrilled to be working at Itasca Community College as an Upward Bound Advisor helping high school students achieve their educational goals. I have my Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and am pursuing my Master’s degree in this field as well. After graduating I.C.C. I transferred to Metropolitan State University where I had built such confidence with testing at that point that I didn’t need my tests read to me anymore. I excelled in my classes and made many close friends in the Twin Cities that share similar interests in my field of study and do amazing things within their community. I have travelled to Spain and Morocco with Itasca Community College Global Education and will be helping lead the Ireland/Wales/London trip in May 2016! My education had been a journey in itself but one that today, I feel immensely proud of.