Learning Disability No Match for Perseverance
For more than ten years, twenty-year-old Aundrea Linzy has been a resident of Cross Creek Apartments in Newport News, Virginia, where she regularly visited its community center for tutoring. Because she has a learning disability and a speech impediment, Linzy thought she would never have a chance at college, let alone a scholarship. With help over the years from the on-site resident services staff at Cross Creek, Linzy will graduate from high school this year and has already received scholarship offers from two colleges in Virginia.
Linzy began coming to Cross Creek’s community center at the age of nine, seeking help with her homework from the community’s resident services coordinator and AmeriCorps members. At the time, she was considered by most of her teachers to be a slow learner and often brought home report cards with Ds and Fs. However, with regular tutoring at the community center, Linzy was able to turn her grades around and became a stand-out student. With high school graduation on the near horizon, Linzy is currently weighing her college options, a process that has been pleasantly complicated by the fact that she has been offered scholarships by two of her schools of interest.
No doubt, Linzy was an appealing candidate to several schools because of her ability to transform her grades, but also because of her passion and commitment to her community. As a teenager who appreciated the support given to her throughout the years, Linzy decided to give back to the Cross Creek community center by volunteering to help resident services employees with children’s activities. She so enjoyed the volunteer experience that she then applied to be an AmeriCorps State Member at Cross Creek, where she spent two years working directly with residents to increase literacy, teach conflict resolution skills, and provide service learning projects to address community needs and issues.
“The community center has been an important part of my life,” explained Linzy. “It feels like home to me. Each time I needed help, the resident services staff and AmeriCorps staff members were always there for me—even with the challenges I faced. Working with [Cross Creek Resident Services Coordinator] Miss Tonya [Speller] has opened many opportunities for me that I would have never thought about. I never thought I would have a chance in school because of my disabilities, but Miss Tonya believed in me. One day, I hope to have a job working with children who have disabilities so I can help them the way Miss Tonya has helped me.”