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College Newbie, Bucking the Odds

Categories: Learning Disabilities

Melissa Pouk, freshman at Babson College; Learning Ally student member You'd think that being saddled with an auditory processing disorder and reading disability would hamper a kid's college experience. Think again! We got the lowdown from Melissa Pouk as she launched into her first days as a freshman at Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts. An auditory processing disorder is when you are able to read the words and able to listen to people -- but the words don’t always go through your head as they would a normal brain, I guess.  It takes me multiple times of listening and reading at the same time to comprehend the material.  So if I had to do that on my own I’d have to read it out loud and then read it again to myself, then read it out loud again for me to really comprehend the whole meaning. And if you’re doing that by yourself, it’s so difficult. But to hear someone else’s voice reading what you need to read and then reading it yourself while looking at the pages, the words go through in your mind.  All of that together is so much easier than having to re-read, re-read, re-read.  So to me, Learning Ally has been a resource without which I don’t know if I could get where I am today.

It’s my second week now of college and I’ve already  just started off with a bang with reading.

Learning Ally gave me a sense of freedom in school -- because the books and the assignments just built up and kept building up, and I felt like I couldn’t get through them. Really, I’d try to do them and would just give up because everything I read would just go right through my head and I couldn’t focus on it. And I couldn’t get through anything as fast as I wanted to.  So I think Learning Ally really opened my eyes to a world of just being able to choose what I want to do and not being trapped under something that I really struggled with. And my life did change a lot.  You can ask anybody in my family:  before I had the resources Learning Ally provided, I was so anxious about everything, like I had extreme anxiety over taking a test or studying or any homework assignment that my teacher would give just sporadically.  I’d be like, Oh my god, can I do this?  I can’t do this!!  I would just be overwhelmed. But once I had the options of listening to books and a little extra time, all of those things together just really helped me get through it and get to where I am today. I’m here at Babson College.  It’s my second week now of college and I’m really loving it.  I just installed all my audiobooks onto the computer that I received here.  And I’ve already just started off with a bang here with reading. You're asking what I would say to a Learning Ally volunteer?   Wow, I really wouldn’t know what to say but that is something I think about quite often when I’m listening.  I’m like, this person is a saint.  Literally.  They have no idea how much they’ve helped me get through so many battles just struggling to even read a sentence.  I can’t even express my gratitude for what they did.  It’s really wonderful.