This is the essay I submitted to the New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome for their 2012 Children’s Scholarship Award contest. I hope you enjoy it! And here is my profile on the NJCTS website.
It’s hard for me to talk about my life with Tourette. For years, I shut everyone out and became enraged if my family even said that word out loud. I know my mom was always trying to help — all the times she tried to show me the stories on TV and the movies about kids with Tourette.
She’d talk about the soccer player and the drummer and other people who had my disorder and accomplished things. She’d try to introduce me to others who had Tourette, which only made me rage more because I wanted no part of it. It was always in my face growing up, and all I wanted to do was slam the door shut and never come out.
I made noises all the time. I made terrible noises such as barking like a dog and snorting like a pig. I couldn’t stop, and people noticed. Bullies made fun of me at the playground, and I never wanted to go back. My tics ruled my life growing up. I couldn’t stop moving and twitching, and I was totally aware of everything my body was doing — and all the people who could see me.
I was so angry that there was nothing I could do about it that I would rage all over my mom when I got home. She would be so nice to me, and all I would do was rage. She raised me and my brother alone and had no one to lean on, and all I would do was rage on her. Afterward, the feelings of guilt for how I treated her would eat away at me. That was my life growing up.
Even hiding inside didn’t change anything. The tics were like my shadow that followed me everywhere. And the anger made me miserable.
We tried all kids of meds and combos. Nothing really helped, and all it did was make me tired. It made me fat, tired and unmotivated. So I became the fat, tired, lazy kids who made noises, ticced all the time and had to take naps like a baby. Great — now I never wanted to leave the house.
But my mom wouldn’t have it. She wouldn’t let me hide, and she wouldn’t let Tourette rule my life. Something came over her one day, and she got really strong and started talking about Tourette at school, Little League games and school functions — everywhere we went.
She used the word Tourette in her sentences like it was any other word and went on a mission to educate everyone around us. She had the doctor change my meds until we found something that didn’t make me quite as tired, which helped a lot.
I remember one day when I was 8 or 9, we were at Burger king and my coprolalia got the best of me. I shouted out terrible swear words while we were ordering our good. I screamed at my mother that “I want a (blanking) hamburger, Susan you (curse word).” It hit the microphone and resonated through the whole restaurant. And everything went silent.
Now, when this kind of thing happened, my mom would always explain to anyone around us that I had Tourette, and it was OK. But on that day, a very rude person made a scene and yelled at my mother for “letting her son talk to her like that.” Well, my mom got MAD! I remember she answered that rude woman just as loudly saying “absolutely NOT.” She then turned to me and said, “Don’t you EVER call me that! It’s MOMMY, not Susan.”
Then she calmly turned back to the guy taking our order and said, “And you heard him, he would like a (blanking) hamburger, please.” She winked at me, and then we got our food and left! And we laughed the whole way home in the car!
We told that story to all our friends, and my mom became a hero. From that day on, I was always surrounded by this great group of boys (including my brother Nick) who helped watch out for me and protected me from bullies — just like my mom did.
Now, 10 years later, those same boys are still my best friends. I no longer feel different or embarrassed. I have Tourette, and I make noises. Big deal. I also have made honor roll at school every year and was inducted into “Who’s Who” when I was in middle school. And I watched that HBO movie my mom wanted me to see called “I have Tourette, but Tourette doesn’t have me,” and it’s true. It doesn’t have me, and it never will.
You’ve struggled all your life with scissors. You felt distinctly discriminated against during handwriting classes in grade school. And shaking hands feels downright unnatural.
In short, you’ve suffered. And everyone knows that for every challenge out there, there’s a college scholarship to reward those who have struggled through it.
Read on to hear about scholarships for you long-suffering lefties.
Unique Scholarships for Unique People
Did you know that one of the top search terms for scholarships is “left handed scholarships”?
There is certainly a lot of demand, and many students have heard rumors of scholarships that will reward them for interesting physical attributes that they were born with. In fact, there are several scholarships out there for tall people, short people, fat people, healthy people, disabled people, and people who are visually impaired.
And it’s true – there’s also a scholarship out there for you lefties! Congratulations!
But let me emphasize that: there is A scholarship out there for you lefties. As in singular. One.
And it’s from a college you’ve probably never heard of.
You’re Just Not That Special
Just kidding. You are special. Really.
“But why only one?!” I can hear you shouting despairingly.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but left-handed people are just not that special. The government doesn't consider left-handed people to be handicapped. Left-handed people haven't really suffered in any significant way. And they haven’t been discriminated against apart from in the relatively minor ways mentioned at the beginning of this article.
In fact, about 10 percent of the population is left-handed. There are approximately 700 million of you in the world.
I’ll repeat: You are just not that special. (At least, not because of your dominant hand. Otherwise, you're a snowflake! Promise!)
The good news is now that you know this, you can move on and start finding better scholarships. If you're determined to get an unusual scholarship, check out our list. There are also thousands of scholarships out there and you are most likely qualified for at least some of them already, and others you can work to get qualified for.
In short, the sooner you stop looking for left-handed scholarships, the better.
The Only Left-Handed Scholarship
But in case you're not convinced that you should seek money elsewhere, read on to hear about the only scholarship in the country for left-handed people.
The Frederick and Mary F. Beckley Scholarship is awarded to one or two left-handed students each year at Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania.
Never heard of Juniata? According to apress release on their web site, this is quite common. Many students only learn about the college when they are looking for a left-handed scholarship.
In case you would like to learn more, Juniata is a quite strong liberal arts college with about 1,600 students. In addition to offering the country’s only left-handed scholarship, they are unique for having “Programs of Emphasis” instead of majors, a very eco-friendly campus, and accomplished men’s and women’s Division III volleyball teams. They also host some fun annual events, including a Pig Roast and the Mr. Juniata Pageant.
So How Did This Scholarship Come Into Being?
Back in 1919, students Frederick Beckley and Mary Francis were paired together in their tennis class because the coach thought that left-handed people couldn’t play tennis as well as the other students.
Though they ended up married because of this, Frederick and Mary apparently took the discriminative act to heart and set out to help future generations of Juniata students who might also be unfairly treated because of their unusual dominant hands.
The final question on the Juniata’s financial aid questionnaire asks if students are right or left-handed, but students who choose the “left-handed” option don’t have to prove it. From this, demonstrated financial need, and academic record at the college (the award is only for sophomores and above), a few students are chosen every year for the award.
Once students receive the scholarship, they continue to receive the scholarship yearly until they graduate.
In case it isn’t obvious, you cannot receive this scholarship unless you attend Juniata College.
And seeing as there is no application process, even if you do choose to attend Juniata College to be awarded for your left-handedness, you can’t do much to ensure you get this scholarship except do well academically.
The awards range between $1,000 and $1,500.
Juniata’s estimated cost of attendance is $51,740 per year.
In conclusion, Juniata may be a great fit for you – for a lot of reasons that do not include this scholarship.
But if money is a big consideration, and being left-handed is your only distinguishing feature, it seems like a gamble to choose this school on the off-chance that you will get awarded a minor scholarship for three of the four years.
As I’ve said, there are hundreds of thousands of scholarships out there.
Check out our list of crazy scholarships if you would like to be unique. Many of them are open to all students willing to put in a bit of effort.
If you can't get a full ride, don't give up! There are a lot of other scholarships out there based on extracurriculars, such as community service, instead of academics.
Not sure how much college would cost without a free ride? Check out the real cost of attending college.
Have you heard about a left-handed scholarship that we missed? Let us know in the comments.
Want to improve your SAT score by 160 points or your ACT score by 4 points? We've written a guide for each test about the top 5 strategies you must be using to have a shot at improving your score. Download it for free now: