I decided at a young age that I have a choice – I can be a victim and feel sorry for myself or I can find the courage to persevere in the face of adversity and succeed. Thankfully, I chose the latter.
A doctor told me at a young age that I would likely never graduate from high school due to my severe hearing loss and being so far behind with my speech and language development. I found the courage to work hard in school and be active in sports and other activities despite wearing hearing aids and living with a 70% hearing loss.
When I was a teen, another doctor told me my hearing loss was actually from having Usher syndrome – which is the leading cause of deaf-blindness. Now I had to find the courage to deal with the news that not only did I have a hearing loss, but I was going to start losing my vision and go blind. I continued to be active and work hard in school, and I proved the first doctor wrong – not only did I graduate from high school, I graduated with honors.
By the time I was college age, I started losing my night vision and my peripheral vision. I decided to go away to college 300 miles from home. I earned my bachelor’s degree and graduated with honors. Even though I had a severe hearing loss and was beginning to lose my vision, I found the courage to begin a professional career. I spent time working in both the health care industry and the pharmaceutical industry.
Almost 20 years after earning my bachelor’s degree, I decided to pursue my MBA degree. My graduate degree was a lot more challenging than my undergraduate degree due to the progression of my eye disease and my limited field of vision, but I was still able to achieve my goal and excel in all of my classes.
After earning my MBA degree, I accepted a position with the Corporate Affairs team at Kellogg. When I was working on my MBA degree, I found the courage to ask someone who is successful despite facing similar challenges to mentor me. He encouraged me to consider Kellogg as he knew the company was committed to diversity and inclusion and fostered a supportive, encouraging environment.
I was nervous starting a new career, especially since my vision loss had progressed significantly in the past few years. I am thankful to have a mentor that encouraged me and I am thankful I found the courage to apply for a position with Kellogg. As someone who has a disability, I can firmly say that Kellogg lives its mission of being committed to diversity and inclusion.
While Kellogg fosters a supportive, encouraging environment, it still takes courage for me to make sure I am successful in my career. I need courage to speak up and ask for reasonable accommodations to do my job. I need courage to educate others on my disabilities and let them know how they can help me by simply speaking a little louder or enlarging their presentation so I can see it better. I also have to ask for assistance navigating through unfamiliar areas. I have found that everyone at Kellogg is always supportive and more than willing to accommodate my requests.
Even though I face daily challenges, I have so much to be grateful for. We often face difficulties we cannot control, but we can control our attitude and our determination to be courageous in order to address challenges and face adversity.