< Back

Defying the Odds: Graduate with Dyslexia Pursues Education Law

Categories: Learning Disabilities

Ptahra Jeppe, aspiring lawyer with dyslexia“Both my mother and grandmother were educators, so I grew up in an environment that really valued literacy and academic achievement,” says Ptahra Jeppe, a college graduate and aspiring law student who has severe dyslexia. “They set the tone for what I would experience moving forward and the kind of tenacity that I would develop.” Ptahra was diagnosed with dyslexia in the third grade when her parents and teachers noticed she wasn’t hitting all her developmental marks. “I was a well-adjusted child and my vocabulary was high, but I was on grade level for everything except reading and decoding,” she explains. Up until the third grade, Ptahra had managed to get by with reading help from her teachers, but that changed when she began having timed, independent in-class exams.
"I am living proof that accommodations work and are needed. It’s because of programs like Learning Ally that I’m where I am today."
“I remember the first time I had a test where the teacher couldn't help me out at all. We were told to write our names on the front of the packet, and I just sat there bawling. I knew there was something missing for me. Kids around me were starting to read through the test and write answers, but for me it was like looking at a blank piece of paper because I couldn't read anything.” It was clear Ptahra needed extra help, so she was diagnosed with dyslexia and moved into a special education environment. For years she was bounced around between mainstream classrooms, resource rooms, and separate instruction, but it was neither the correct type nor amount of intervention needed to level the playing field. By the time she entered the seventh grade, she was still reading at a second grade level. At that point her parents fought to get her into the Churchill School, which specializes in teaching children with learning disabilities. There she received services such as a reader, scribe, double time, separate testing locations and audiobooks. The accommodations made all the difference. [caption id="attachment_27135" align="alignleft" width="201"]Ptahra visiting the Learning Ally booth at the Everyone Reading Conference 2014. Ptahra visiting the Learning Ally booth at the Everyone Reading Conference 2014.[/caption] “I was the kid who statistically wasn't supposed to graduate high school. And forget life after that: college, a successful job, and other achievements. But I graduated and went on to attend Adelphi University where I studied sociology and graduated magna cum laude.” One tool in what Ptahra describes as a “toolbox of resources” that helped her thrive in college was Learning Ally’s audiobook library, where she was able to find her textbooks and other reading material. “It pains me to hear educators say they don't want to put accommodations in a child's IEP because they worry the child will become dependent,” she says. “If a kid needed glasses, you would never tell them, ‘Try harder.’ I am living proof that accommodations work and are needed. It's because of programs like Learning Ally that I'm where I am today.” Ptahra is currently working as the program director at Everyone Reading in New York City, where she is able to help people in her community by sharing her journey and raising awareness. “People often ask me, ‘Does it get easier?’ The thing about dyslexia is that it will always be a challenge, but we have the ability to succeed. Look at all the successful people who have dyslexia: the Whoopi Goldbergs, the Einsteins, the Churchills. These are the footsteps that we’re following in.” The advice Ptahra would give a child who is struggling with dyslexia? “Don’t ever give up.”

Stay in Touch: Subscribe To Our Newsletter.