A Different Path to Success
My name is Ethan Arberman. I am 21 years old and I was born and raised in New York City. I am also dyslexic. My story begins when I was in first grade and was having difficulty acquiring reading and writing skills. By second grade, not only did I start to see that I was not like everyone else but so did the other kids. There was some teasing although I don’t remember all that much. For all I know I may have blocked it out. When my mom realized what was going on she immediately set up a plan for what she was going to do in order to help me. Instead of just finding a school that may have been able to help me she started a school just for dyslexic kids, named The Sterling School for my grandmother. She opened the school with five students and started to grow from there. At the time of this article the school is in its 12th year. The school is very small and because of that, all of the students get a lot of one-on-one time with all the teachers. In this learning environment I was able to thrive and grow, and ultimately learn to read and write with the help of a computer. Graduating from Sterling School was one of the scariest things I have ever done; it had been a safe haven for me for almost three years. The next part of my journey was to find a school for seventh grade and then in high school. After some research and networking, my mom found Bay Ridge Prep (BRP). It had seventh grade all the way up through high school. Being at BRP I was able to continue my growth, getting help in those subjects I still needed support and challenging myself in subjects like microbiology and psychology.
I began to think about future careers. In high school, I realized that I was pretty good at computers; fixing them, helping people with them. As this hobby grew I realized that I might want to do this as a career, so I started looking at colleges with computer programs. I found Johnson and Wales (JWU). It has a network engineering program and I got accepted and enrolled. I am now graduating from JWU in May 2012 and have a part time job that I hope will become a full time job after I graduate.
Besides network engineering I have many other interests that coincide with technology as well as some other fields. One of the big ones right now is technology and how it is being used in schools. I think that for people with learning disabilities using some form of computer assistance can be very helpful whether they are using a program to help them spell or one that allows them to type by talking. I think that as we go forward we will see lots of new ways that technology and computers can help people with learning disabilities learn and thrive. There are also a lot of free tools that people can use in order to help them. For example, in order to help myself stay organized, I use a free calendar from Google which then syncs to my phone so I always know where I’m supposed to be and when. I also use my phone to help me keep track of assignments that I’m working on as well as doing just about everything I need to do in a given day; like check my email when I’m on the go so that I don’t walk all the way to class only to find out that the professor called in sick and sent me an email saying so.
My personal philosophy is that everyone that wants to use technology should, but everyone’s going to do it differently. The trick is finding out what you want to do and then using technology to make it easier. I am lucky to have found a field in which I am genuinely interested and in which my strengths outweigh my deficits. Hopefully if you are dyslexic you too can gain the basic skills you need so that you can also pursue your area of talent. #
Ethan Aberman is a senior at Johnson and Wales University.