< Back

Why I Give: Veterinarian Remembers Struggling During School Due to Dyslexia

Categories: Disability Type, Giving, Learning Disabilities

by guest blogger Cliff Swanson, Learning Ally volunteer Cliff and DogI have recently retired from a 30-year career as a veterinary anesthesiologist. I was on the faculty of a prominent college of veterinary medicine that is ranked in the top three among similar institutions nationwide. Teaching and mentoring veterinary medical students was the most personally rewarding component of my appointment and, as such, being connected with students and their education is the component of my job I miss the most in retirement.  
I knew upon retiring that I wanted to perform volunteer work connected with education. Participating in the Learning Ally mission as a volunteer reader has enabled me to do so, and is especially meaningful and important to me personally because I am dyslexic.
Dyslexia was not a word I knew during my early formative years in elementary school, but I certainly knew that I had difficulty reading and copying a column of numbers correctly or adding them together and writing them in correct order on paper. This was significantly embarrassing for me, and I hid my problem from others, including teachers and my parents. Cliff with GuitarI managed to work around the difficulty largely because I was very inquisitive, loved learning, and was highly motivated. The effort involved was certainly worthwhile because after a number of years of schooling I eventually assumed a career position that was personally fulfilling, fun, and enabled me to contribute to the future of my profession by participating in the education of its future participants. None of the personal satisfaction and validation I derived from my teaching career would have been possible without persistence in overcoming the challenge dyslexia imposed upon my education. Thus I am a firm believer in the intrinsic value of education and the societal need for facilitating access to educational resources for all people. Regardless of the presentation format or subject matter, written words are the basis of information transfer upon which the future of our global society depends.  
Disabilities that impair access to literature potentially deny access to the wealth of information contained in humanity’s written words.
It is my pleasure to continue supporting Learning Ally in facilitating access to educational resources for people who might otherwise be marginalized or hindered from achieving their goals and potential for lifelong learning.


Learning Ally- Together It's PossibleGive the gift of reading! Donate to Learning Ally to continue to help those with print disabilities achieve their dreams. Find out more about how to donate, including how to donate in honor of a friend or family member, by going to LearningAlly.org/Donate.