As pretty much any college student can attest to, keeping a socially acceptable GPA is a major stressor. No matter how many office hours or tutoring sessions people attend, some classes just get the best of us and leave us with a little dent in our GPA and in our confidence. The amount of late nights stuck in the library or endless spell-checking while writing papers I have put myself through within my year and a half at college combined could probably have some people thinking I'm clinically insane. I work hard, I do decently in my courses, but no matter what there is always something that has me stressed.
This semester I decided to start a new job that I found posted on my school's online job board and I applied without really even knowing what I would be doing. I got the job and met with my new boss once returning to school. "You will be working with a girl who is blind this semester. You will help her read her assignments, prepare for exams, and write papers." I was a little taken back considering I had never done anything like this before but I agreed that the job sounded like something that would ultimately be rewarding.
Meeting a new person for the first time is one thing, but meeting and getting to know someone without sight is something completely different. The first day consisted of me learning her mannerisms. Learning how she wanted to hold my arm when I guided her across campus or understanding that when she made a certain face when I was reading to her, it meant that she wanted me to repeat a line. After a few weeks, we were a well-oiled machine. I would pick her up from her classes and we would chat along the way about anything from boy drama to our plans for the weekend. After a certain point, I didn't give a second thought to the fact that the girl I was with weekly was even blind at all.
That's not to say that school was not difficult for her. As she began her last semester of college before her long-awaited graduation, she tackled courses no one thought she ever would be able to handle. I watched frustration overtake our sessions at times and I learned of times that she almost gave up. Learning about how different her everyday was compared to mine—the loneliness, the challenge to even get to and from class sometimes—I began to see myself and my own problems as close to insignificant.
I can honestly say that I have started to approach my life a little more modestly since beginning working with her. I've learned about what it takes to really, seriously struggle and rise from the ashes even when people have told you that you cannot succeed. She is a very strong inspiration to me, and to all people who think that disabilities hold them back from going to college and getting the degree that they absolutely deserve. Because of her, no one will ever be able to tell me I can't do something because if she can graduate college this May after facing more roadblocks than anyone I've ever met, anyone can not only get past a bad test grade or a challenging course, but do so positively and with everything you've got.