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As a young child, I was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome at the age of 3. Though I had excellent early intervention, I also struggled with information processing, bullying, challenges with schoolwork, and social interaction, among other issues. This continued from preschool to 10th grade. I had moved 6 times in my life, so I not only had to make transitions, but do so more frequently than most people.

However, when I began my junior year of high school, I discovered that I had academic ambition and talent. From that point on, I achieved grades that put me in the top 8 of my class. I had earned rare honors, such as being the first Delaware high school student to receive a certificate of merit and national-level recognition from Teen Voices of Democracy Magazine. In addition, I spoke publicly and voluntarily about my condition and extenuating circumstances to half of the student body in my school for an R-Word campaign. Through this, I became a highly respected member of my graduating class; enough to win prom king by a landslide! It is said that most people with autism do not go to school or do poorly if they do.

Despite the fact that I was a straggler, an individual who had no ambition, no friends, no capacity to think independently, and was first claimed to be unable to read, write, or attend school at all, I had pulled through to become an award-winning, critically acclaimed, and popular scholar in high school. Currently, I am attending the University of Delaware: one of the finest universities in the world, and I am studying biological sciences and doing fairly well thus far. Only a few years ago, I never would have imagined that I would excel academically the way I did, make many friends, or attend any college. At this point, I am proud to say that I have become who I was born to be: an idealist with ambition, dreams, and integrity. Finally, I have autism, but I also have happiness, independence, and high education.

Reese Eskridge
Newark, DE

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