In Grade 4, Melissa Titus was diagnosed with severe dyslexia, a condition that made it nearly impossible for her to read and write. Melissa had to work harder than everyone else to overcome her condition and this year, she graduated Summa Cum Laude with a 75% average.
Born in Eersteriver and raised in Goodwood (Cape Town), Melissa’s condition was so severe that she could only read from back to front. As a child in primary school, her most stressful moments were when she had to read in front of the class and it did not help that everyone knew that she had to go for remedial classes. Remedial classes were only for the kids that were struggling to learn and this made her feel self-conscious. In grade 8, she had to face another self-conscious moment. She was made class captain, but after seeing her low marks, the teacher said she could no longer be class captain. That is when she decided to buckle down and aim for those high marks. It did not come easily and she had to work very hard to obtain ‘average marks’. As time went by, she eventually overcame her dyslexia and graduated matric with the high marks she was aiming for.
Not only did Melissa register for her BCom degree at UWC, but for the past three years, she made the Dean’s list for being one of the top performers in the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences.
Melissa says that her achievements weren’t only about hard work. She says that it’s also because her parents encouraged her to overcome all obstacles and work hard to achieve her goals. Her mom, Colleen, says that they were determined that the dyslexia wouldn’t be Melissa’s stumbling block. Her dad, Shaun is just grateful that he had reached a point in his life where he could provide his daughter with the resources that she needed to excel. He says that there are many kids with learning disabilities that do not have access to these resources and they are seen as the “misfits of society”. Melissa’s younger brother, Luke, also struggles with learning disabilities and has to attend a special needs school. Melissa is also very grateful for the support and love she receives from her older sister, Lisa.
Melissa, who is currently completing her Honours degree in Industrial Psychology, says that instead of letting the obstacles in her life get her down, she used it to motivate herself. She says that because she had to work harder than everyone else, she came to appreciate the value of hard work. She advises people suffering from dyslexia to never give up because through hard work, you will reach your goal. She warns that “you will feel overwhelmed at times, but just push through it”, because in the end, you will hardly remember the tough times.
In South Africa, approximately 5 million people suffer from dyslexia (10% of South Africans). Dyslexia does not mean that you are dumb. It just means that there is something in your brain that makes it difficult for you to see words. Many of the greatest minds suffered from dyslexia, with one of the most famous being the late, Steve Jobs. For those of you that don’t know, Steve Jobs was the founder and CEO of the $800 billion company, Apple. If you think you suffer from dyslexia, go and see a doctor for advice on how to move forward.
Source: IOL (Edited), other