Nicole Scartozzi: 2014 Anne MacKay Scholarship Winner
By Nicole Scartozzi
Mattituck High School
I feel a red stamp in my head and unavoidable label, the words “special education” forever bonded to me. The assumptions people make of me due to the association with the word burdens my emotional stability. My confidence continually diminishes at a gradual rate as teachers illustrate the various elements we are required to know. Quickly, the sensation of confusion consumes me. I realize I can not grasp subjects at the level of everyone else and I can infer my assumptions are correct based on the evident geometric pattern of understanding faces which surround me and I envy how retaining information comes effortlessly to a majority of my peers. I utilize the duration of my lunch with my teachers working to comprehending the topic as a whole. My self conscious forces me to write down every detail out of the fear in a few hours I won’t be able to remember a thing. After school, I follow a daily ritual of analyzing my notes excessively awaiting sleep to overtake me.
A couple of months into eighth-grade my school newspaper, The Mattitalk publishes an article titled, Special Education Students Use Their Disabilities as Excuses. My emotions are triggered by this mortifying moment. I consistently apply myself in classes; yet do not see the results I yearn for. This writer does not empathize with special education students who constantly have their intellectual abilities deceive them in an impending struggle to flourish in an academic setting. The want and need to do well exists in me yet the ability to execute such actions does not. I swear after this event that I will renounce the special education label that follows me. I challenge my learning disability and I win.
I hope to achieve this award because without it my goals for the future will be unattainable. I aim to develop new medications to ease pain and eliminate disorders of individuals. The only way I can do this is by becoming a chemical engineer. I grew up with a learning disability and know how it feels to be judged based on something that is impossible to change. I was outraged at how people can concur with the misconceptions of special education students due to false representation. A feeling of helplessness took over me; I realized I couldn’t change how others think. I don’t want another person to suffer based on what society defines as “normal.” The only way I feel I can contribute is by giving these strong individuals the necessary tools so the world can see them for what they are on the inside. I know we make judgments of people in approximately ten seconds of meeting them. Though, as secretary of the organization of Best Buddies, within my school I have gotten to know a lot of the mentally disabled which are not given a chance by their peers. I aim to show the world a label doesn’t define you, you define the label. By going into classes within my school and educating these scholars we are slowly making a difference within their perceptions.
Within the medical world we are focusing on other issues and letting disabled children cope only through therapy or minor medication. Without the faculty of Mattituck High School assisting me, and never letting me give up, graduation would have been a distant dream. In the future I want to see children who couldn’t run prior playing sports on teams. I’m going to fund my own research because I have a personal connection to this issue and won’t stop until it is no longer an obstacle for the rest of Americans. The school which I will be attending, American University, is located in Washington D.C. with numerous national labs such as: National Institutes of Health, where I can see what currently the laborites have scientifically found to build off it. All it takes is one voice to make a change and I am persistent in that. This summer I am going to Changi Mai, Thailand to work in one of the largest hospitals there through Gap Medics to see what their neuroscience department has done in recent studies and understand the current obstacles for smaller countries to receive medication for the disabled people within their country. So I can overcome this challenge in my research and take in every point of view to be successful in the fight for people who can’t fight for themselves. One day, there will be a world where disabled children are given the same opportunities as other children and I will know I played a part in making that a reality.