Leadership Through Inspiration

May 04, 2011  |  Posted in: Members' Blog - Stuttering Perspectives   |  By:   |   0 Comments

We as persons who stutter often struggle with acceptance. We have the constant fear of our peers judging us for taking a few seconds too many to speak our thoughts. I strongly believe in advertising my stuttering. While I understand it is not for everyone, I feel that advertising loosens the mood and acknowledges what some of you may consider the elephant in the room.

I was not always pro-active about advertising my stuttering. In my senior year of high school, I had a life-changing experience at graduation. I had to give a speech as the Salutatorian of my class. Although it was a struggle, I can honestly say at that moment, standing at the podium with no words and just air, I decided that stuttering would no longer control my life. I was back in the driver’s seat and I was so proud of myself for conquering one of the most challenging moments of my life. At the end of my speech, my senior class, along with teachers, families and friends gave me a standing ovation which showed me they accepted me and quietly rooted for me throughout our four years of high school together.

With my new acceptance of stuttering, I was ready for the future! With college came a new group of friends and personal goals and ambitions I strived to achieve. In my junior year, I was an established leader on campus. I was involved in numerous clubs and organizations, on the Dean’s List, inducted into several honor societies, the Secretary of the Student Government Association and I was a person who stuttered. It was during this time I decided to run for Student Government Association President. I knew that it wouldn’t be easy but along with a great support system, I had the confidence in myself that I deserved it and that I could do it. Advertising my stuttering, along with candy bars, t-shirts, pens and posters became part of my campaign. To this day, I will forever be grateful to the students, faculty and staff at St. Joseph’s College for their overwhelming support and encouragement of my journey through college as a person who stutters. My time as President was filled with successful events, stressful occasions, memorable moments and the start of many wonderful friendships.

Attending St. Joseph’s College was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Yet, I often wondered how I would be remembered as a student and as a leader. On April 30th, 2011 at our annual Leadership Lunch, I found my answer. It was a beautiful afternoon of dedicated leaders being awarded for their contributions to various clubs and organizations on campus. As the afternoon came to a close, there was one award left on the program: Leadership through Inspiration. The thought of receiving this award didn’t even cross my mind until Sherrie, the Assistant Dean of Students and the adviser of the Student Government Association started to describe the recipient of this award as a courageous woman who displayed grace and inspiring leadership skills as Student Government Association President and as a person who stutters. OH MY GOSH! While tears and applaud filled the room, I was in awe of this amazing recognition I was given for being an inspirational leader. As I got up to receive my award, I received a standing ovation. I was so honored that even through fluent and non-fluent days, my peers looked at me with respect and admiration. That was truly an unforgettable day, one that will stay with me forever.

By sharing my story, I hope to inspire you to take a chance, make a difference and be an inspiration to those around you. My mom has always said that each person who stutters is special in his or her own way. Now, more than ever, I truly believe that. Acceptance of stuttering may not come today or tomorrow, but with the support and encouragement of fellow persons who stutter, I hope it comes one day soon. A great way to feel an overwhelming sense of acceptance is by attending the NSA conference this year from July 6th to July 10t in Fort Worth, Texas. It is truly a memorable experience that will change your perspective on stuttering forever. I hope to see you there! Until next time, don’t be afraid to be a Fruit Loop in a world of Cheerios. Stay strong and Stutter Beautifully!

– Nina Z.

Disclaimer: Please note that the information and opinions expressed in the articles contained in the Blog section of the NSA Queens Chapter website do not necessarily concur with the views or beliefs of the National Stuttering Association (NSA) or the Queens Chapter of the NSA. They are the opinion of each individual contributing author who attends the Queens chapter.

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