With the new school year starting, I am reminded of when I was a student. Growing up was a little tough for me. Since both of my parents were deaf, I wasn’t read to or spoken to as a kid, so it took me a while to fully appreciate learning in school.
One of the most vivid memories I have of my difficult years as a student took place while I was attending first grade at St. Christopher’s Catholic school in Nashua. One day, I didn’t want to go to school at all. My mom had to drag me to school, then drag me into the classroom, and physically sit me down in my chair before she left.
I wasn’t in the mood to be sitting in class at all, which was apparent to everyone around me. My teacher, Sister Neverett, quickly picked up on my mood. Instead of leaving me alone, she called on me to answer the very first question of the day. I was so upset that I opened up my desk, took out a book, and threw it at her. Sister Neverett began walking toward me, and I continued to throw my books at her until I finally ran out. However, 6-year-old me was so intent to keep throwing objects at my teacher that I turned to the girl sitting next to me and pushed her out of the way to access her books.
Sister Neverett grabbed me by the back of my uniform, picked me up, and carried me into the hallway. She then walked over to the milk cooler, opened it, dropped me in, closed the lid with me inside, and went to get the priest in charge. They took me into the office and gave me one of the worst paddlings of my life. After that episode, my parents took me out of that school and never looked back. Although this experience was pretty terrible, I can look back knowing that I made the necessary choices to better myself not long afterward.
Up until sixth grade, I had always been in the special classes. I had a hard time speaking and understanding some of the more complex words that a sixth grader ought to know. Then everything changed when a fellow student called me a “homosapien” and told me “Your epidermis is showing.” I was offended by these words because I didn’t understand what they meant. I realized that I didn’t know what the other kids in my grade knew. It was then that I decided to do two things.
The first was that I read the dictionary, from start to finish, so that I knew every word. The second thing I did was watch the nightly news. My family owned a TV that featured a dial to change the channels, and I would rotate the dial to watch different news anchors. When Dan Rather would go to commercial, I would switch to Tom Brokaw. They would give the news, and I would repeat the stories to them, word for word.
I did those two things for the rest of the school year, and by the time I entered seventh grade, I was taken out of the special classes. I taught myself to articulate well and learned every word the dictionary had to offer.
Throughout my school years, I went from throwing books at my teacher to reading the dictionary to better myself as a student and overall person. This dedication to learning has continued to help me in the courtroom today. I commit to my clients’ cases in the same way I committed to improving myself in school. I believe I’ve found success as an attorney because I always make sure that I know the law and case-specific facts as well or better than everyone else in the courtroom. It’s this intense dedication that allows me and my team to achieve the best outcomes for our clients.