Living with APD/Dyslexia Scholarship for 2022

Gemm Learning is proud to announce that the winner of its 2022 APD Dyslexia Scholarship is Nicholas Panzarino, an undergraduate at Lynn University, Florida.

Gemm Learning has been providing a college scholarship for a student who has overcome APD or Dyslexia (or both) on the journey to college every year since 2013.

Here is the winning essay:

Living with APD by Nicholas Panzarino

In middle school, at age 10, I was diagnosed with a learning disability, Auditory Processing Disorder. I remember that day as feeling happy and sad. I was finally relieved to make sense as to why it took me longer to learn and do certain things. Like most people with a learning disability, I had the inevitable moment of feeling powerless and unintelligent. But I also had the positive moments of feeling successful and capable. My middle school years consisted of building my self-esteem by spending countless hours playing the hardest video games and building my own incredible creations with my Legos without having to read the instruction manual.

It is difficult to live a normal life with Auditory Processing Disorder. I am unable to hear sounds as words. Therefore reading, spelling and language comprehension have always been challenging and difficult for me. I have poor memory recall due to not being able to distinguish words or syllables that sound alike. To this day, I still have not been able to memorize the multiplication table. I also have trouble keeping up with conversations in groups and many times, avoid this situation as it makes me feel inadequate and frustrates me. Due to my inadequacies, I do not have a lot of friends and socializing is scary and hard for me. My mother quit her job to help me acquire good study habits and advocate for myself. As a result of my hard work and determination, I graduated high school as an honors student and a member of The National Honor Society.

Advocating for yourself takes time and effort. It helps build your confidence. The more you self -advocate the easier it gets. When you realize people want to help you and contribute to your success, it builds self-confidence. My learning difference also taught me to embrace differences in others. Because I have learned to find my own strengths in unconventional places, I have learned the importance of doing the same for others. Although my daily struggles with school included working twice as hard as other students, I would often get stereotyped by others who did not understand what it means to have a learning difference. However, I refused to give up. I have learned the importance of standing up for my myself, being confident and determined. This got me involved in joining clubs at school and becoming involved in community service.

I believe it is important to raise awareness about different learners. Not enough people take the time to become educated on what they are and can make false assumptions on how they affect someone. I remember being ashamed of my diagnosis of Auditory Processing Disorder, now as a young adult, I feel good to embrace the positives associated with it and share it with others. It changed the way I felt about myself giving me the confidence and reinforcing the truth that having a disability does not make you any less smart or capable.

I look at the world and see the amazing potential that exists in diversity. My diagnosis of APD has enabled me to see the beauty in difference and the passion to change the way we define intelligence, anyone with a learning disability can fully succeed in life. I am living proof of this. I currently attend Lynn University as a business major.

I will continue to work hard in all that I do both personally and academically.