Until he was formally diagnosed in 5th grade with acute dyslexia and a 3rd grade reading level, Ryan Ansel was viewed as a late starter in reading.Yet many years later, while applying for a Learning Ally National Achievement Award, he wrote: “I transformed dyslexia from my enemy into a source of motivation. Dyslexia and Learning Ally are the reasons I was able to achieve high academic honors each year in high school. The impossible is now possible for me."
It took several painful years for Ryan to accept his condition as a challenge to be overcome, rather than something to be ashamed of. The road to acceptance has brought him insight and strength. “I no longer view dyslexia as a handicap but as an advantage,” he says. “In a peculiar and positive way, dyslexia gifted me with a great work ethic and superior organizational and study skills which I might not have otherwise learned or embraced.”
Now, by his own account, every day in a school classroom or reading at home is an opportunity for Ryan to overcome a challenge that will never abandon him. After graduating from Chestnut Hill Academy in Philadelphia, he is now attending Davidson College in North Carolina, and plans to major in Biology.
On February 7, 2011 in Washington, DC, Ryan was honored at the Learning Ally National Achievement Awards ceremony. His acceptance remarks were short and sweet:
"I just wanted to thank everyone here. When I think about Learning Ally / RFB&D, I always think back to the very beginning when I was a young student, first through third grade, reading "Danny and the Dinosaur" every day. I had that book memorized.
"I didn’t understand why I couldn’t read like everyone else. And I remember when my dad told me, in fifth or sixth grade, that I was dyslexic. I wanted to reject that title because I wanted to be the same as everyone else. And I just remember how this service transformed my life because now I've realized what it’s done for me, how It’s really actually helped me.
"Everyone loves the quote I've shared about dyslexia being something that’s made me better. And I truly believe that if it weren’t for that I don’t think I’d be where I am today.
"And I remember in freshman year, when my dad told me about what Learning Ally does. And I couldn’t believe that people actually go in to read these textbooks that I would have refused to read myself! Just that they would do that for people like me and for people who are visually impaired. . .I was just shocked.
And so I thank you for this award. . . ."
Ryan Ansel and his family at the National Achievement Awards, 2/7/2011