James was a successful entrepreneur when the economy turned south in 2009. In addition to his business struggles, he simultaneously experienced a series of other issues and misfortunes, which resulted in the onset of depression causing him to attempt suicide. He survived, but suffered the loss of his vision, sense of smell and had partial loss of hearing and taste. He describes that time as “an Etch-A-Sketch” period, where his earlier life and achievements were erased and he was forced to find and create an entirely new way of living.
And that is exactly what he did. James began using Learning Ally at Middle Tennessee State University where he studied psychology. Learning Ally not only provided equal access to required reading materials, but gave James the ability to independently do his work. “I could read at my own pace, do additional research, and broaden my interests in other readings. I had the same opportunities as my other classmates to take my education seriously and succeed.” James graduated in 2016, with honors, applied and was accepted into the Peabody College of Vanderbilt clinical counseling program. James says, “I would not have transitioned from once a life of uncertainty to a life of achievement and self-confidence if it were not for Learning Ally.”
James is now a mentor in Learning Ally’s College Success Program, providing guidance and support to undergraduate students across the country who are blind. “It would have been invaluable to me when I first lost my sight to have had a mentor to counsel me on my challenging journey.”