RiSE Scholarship Foundation, Inc.
Photo of Taylor Heffner
Kendall Moore of Madison, Mississippi
Kendall describes his learning disabilities as only someone who has experienced it can do. “Imagine a message entering the brain and not taking a direct path to be understood and acted upon. Instead, the message hits a spider web and scatters. Eventually, parts of the message fit back together, but it takes a little longer.”
Kendall and his family used many therapies; however the computer therapy that increased his abilities quickly sparked his desire to study computer science, to become a video game designer. He says, “I want to use the power of story, enhanced by technology, to educate, entertain, and improve other peoples’ lives.”
Even through the challenge of overcoming a disability, Kendall did not allow his learning differences to hold him back. As Kendall writes, “I didn’t let those [learning challenges] define me. I didn’t use them as excuses. Instead I learned to accept myself as who I am… I worked, I practiced and I worked some more…Everyone has some challenge, and I am thankful that I know how to deal with mine.”
His advice to a student recently diagnosed with learning disabilities is to “not let this alter who he is…look past the bad and look for the good. He needs to realize just because someone says he has a challenge, or a disability, it doesn’t mean he is limited by it.”
Kendall is currently in college in Mississippi.
To find out more about Kendall’s story see an article featuring him in the Press section of the RiSE website.
Taylor Heffner of Atlanta, Georgia
Taylor Heffner’s parents took notice when he had trouble learning the alphabet in preschool. As he fell further and further behind, Taylor became self-conscious and dreaded going to school. He spent several years struggling with tutors to keep up, but it wasn’t until he entered The Howard School in 6th grade that he was finally formally diagnosed with his learning disabilities.
Taylor admits that, “when you finally get a diagnosis, it’s kind of a relief.” Now that he knew the reasons why he had trouble in school, he could begin to address the problems. He stresses, “The important thing to remember is that this is just about the way you learn. You still learn, and you are just as smart and capable as everyone else.”
Taylor remarks that a diagnosis of LD is “not the end of the world; actually it is a new beginning to learn how you learn.”
Since being diagnosed with his learning disability, Taylor has been working hard to figure out how he learns best. He says, “I have to study a lot longer and in different ways to retain the information I am trying to learn.”
His learning disability changes how he approaches school, and Taylor makes sure to explore all areas so he can discover what he likes best. “You have many talents; push yourself, even if it takes you out of your comfort zone to find them.”
He says that “perseverance” is a word that “will stick with you all of your life.” While you may not get things right away, “the ability to shrug it off and keep going, despite the challenges will take you far in everything you do.”
Taylor is currently at college in Georgia. To read more about Taylor, please see a feature that Kids Enabled wrote on him in the press section of the RiSE website.
Andrew Pollowitz of Washington, D.C.
The Lab School
Andrew was diagnosed with his learning disabilities at age four. He attended The Lab School in Washington, DC, which uses an innovative, multi-sensory arts-based curriculum to help students with learning disabilities.
Andrew says, “I struggle in English because I have trouble grasping concepts and abstract ideas,” but he did not let this challenge hold him back. An avid sports fan, Andrew became The Lab School’s sports reporter when he was a freshman in high school and, for his required internship, he wrote as a sports reporter for the newspaper Young D.C. Impressed with Andrew’s work ethic and drive, his supervisor granted him press credentials. He now has entrance into several sporting events in D.C. where he sits with the media and attends post-game press conferences. He will use this experience to study communications.
Andrew feels lucky “to be in a school to help me succeed,” but he knows everyone cannot be that lucky. His advice, “if you need help you can always ask for help…don’t feel bad when you fail, you can always try again.” As someone who has successfully overcome challenges, he conveys a valuable message, “Even when times are tough for you, do not ever give up on what you are doing. Great lessons could be learned from mistakes.”
Andrew is currently a student at a college in Florida and still active in sports media.