This is an essay written for a graduate program application by someone who has known Ben for about 4 years. With Nicole's permission, I am posting this. I changed the name of the university.
Working for the YMCA of Greater Charlotte exposed me to a lot of children. One of my many
jobs at the YMCA is to teach swimming. As a swim instructor, I started teaching three-five years old
how to swim. It was an amazing feeling and I enjoyed seeing the big happy smiles on their little faces.
The Aquatics Coordinator had one specific child named Ben that she was assigned to instruct. Ben
was five years old and has Cerebral Palsy. He does not talk, but makes loud noises in the water, which was a sign of his happiness. As time went on, I would say hello to Ben. I begin meeting his family and I would always give Ben hugs while he would pinch my cheeks and grab my hair. One day the Aquatics Coordinator came up to me and said that she had a new job offer in New York and was leaving in a month. She asked me if I could take over and continue to teach Ben to swim. I was so honored and told her I would be more than happy to do so. Even though we were sad she was leaving and I was nervous at first, I knew I could handle the job. To this day, I am still teaching Ben to swim.
I guess I can say I found my gift after going to school for five years and working multiple jobs for
the past four years. I started thinking to myself I wanted to do more. I knew I wanted to go back to
school but unsure of what to study. As time with on I knew I had to try to work in the special needs field to see if this was the place for me. So I applied for Exceptional Children position for the Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools. August of 2011, I was offered a position at a High School as an Assistant. It was happening! I was finally setting a goal and felt like this one was the right one. I started seeing progress in children I was working with and knew I needed to learn more about children with disabilities. I did an online search on specialized majors and found what I needed. XX University offered a Masters Program in Disability studies. Wow, this was amazing feeling and I felt like now I can incorporate my Sports Management background, swim instructor experience and educational studies into opening a facility for kids with disabilities.
The main reason why I am choosing to studying Disability Studies at XXU is because I have so
much to offer these special people. I know it took me about four years to realize this dream, but it was meant for me. God knew that I had to go through obstacles and struggles to get where I am today. I am thankful for what God has done for me and he wants me to do more. Yes, it took our Aquatics coordinator leaving so that I could find out what I wanted to do with in a career. Ben is awesome and even though he does not speak to me as you, our connection is so strong that I understand when he is not feeling well, when he doesn’t want to swim and when he wants to jump in the pool. Studying at XXU will help me meet more children like Ben and accomplish my goal in opening my very own facility for kids.