Madison Dyslexia Center Scholarship Essay shows life-changing results

By Kelly Kuenzie, Director, Madison Children’s Dyslexia Center

All of us are grateful for the generosity and support the Masons provide to make the Children’s Dyslexia Center possible. Teaching students with dyslexia for over 20 years has opened up a world of opportunities for hundreds of children.

This year again, we can thank the Masons for offering scholarships to past graduates who are now applying to college. The essay below is from one of these remarkable students who won one of last year’s scholarships. 

Scholarship Essay for The Children’s Dyslexia Center of the Madison Area 

By: Amelia 

A thick forest covered with trees that reach up for miles, vines that wind and weave through leaves and branches, with slight bursts of light seeping through. Colorful flowers sprout out from the rich moss-covered dirt. Birds dressed in provocative colors catch flight, soaring through the sky. A fierce tiger with jaws that could snap a man’s neck in half stared down at me, its muscles rippling like waves through the ocean. Coming back into focus, I slid down in the stiff office chair, the fluorescent lighting beaming down causing me to squint as I turned away from the majestic beast. As I sat uncomfortably, my mother peppered the doctor with questions. My dad’s hands were tightly clasped shut. My 10-year-old self couldn’t comprehend the diagnosis of “dyslexia.” Am I going to die? I didn’t feel sick. 

Lucky for me, I had extraordinarily supportive parents. They took the time to help me understand more about my disability and find resources to help address my unique educational needs. One of those resources was the Children’s Dyslexia Center (CDC) at the Wisconsin Masonic Center. I’ll never forget the first time I approached this historic building, with its gorgeous tall ceilings holding intricate light fixtures that dimly shined down on the stone floor that my shoes clicked on. It was always an event, twice a week, to enter this monumental space. In addition to physical beauty, the Masonic Center holds a special intangible beauty in my life. 

Once I started in the CDC program I realized that I had the option to learn how to live with dyslexia and grow my skills in reading and writing. At the CDC I was welcomed by my great tutor Gia and associated staff. Gia was an incredible role model for me, as well as a supportive and empathetic teacher. Through Gia’s instruction, I started developing reading and writing skills. I realized there was a whole world of excitement and imagery waiting for me within the pages of books. I discovered characters who overcame their challenges across different galaxies or times in history. 

In addition to reading skills, the CDC helped me develop the tools that I needed to be successful in life. I learned to be diligent and organized and to ask questions. I sacrificed my free time to make sure I was completing my work at school. This extra effort gave me the confidence to succeed academically. The CDC was also where I first learned Latin roots which later led me to pursue four years of Latin in high school which is now one of my favorite classes. I have a 3.7 GPA and have been on high honor roll repeatedly throughout my high school experience. As a senior, I was nominated and accepted into the National Honor Society based on grade point average, extracurricular participation, and community service. These academic achievements would not be possible without everyone who helped me during my time at the CDC. 

To this day whenever I pass the Wisconsin Masonic Lodge I am reminded of my time there, including all the challenges and successes during the program. Not everything has been easy with dyslexia, but I’ve been lucky enough to have support from so many different people including my family at the CDC. The CDC helped me see my disability as an asset and not a flaw. As I look to the next chapter of life, and my future as a college student, I plan to continue to draw upon the valuable skills I learned at the CDC.