Beating the odds, Tony Bell understands the importance of Rehabilitation Counseling

If you believe statistical data, I should not be here, preparing to embark on graduate studies at San Diego State University. Nor should I have been a college graduate. Or even a high school graduate.

I come from a background of poverty, mischief and a lack of both education and educators. I was one of many students labeled “learning disabled.” This brand caused many of us to drift to the back of the classroom, afraid to ask questions because we were considered unable to learn in certain circumstances.

If I had been asked five years ago if I would graduate from college, let alone pursue a master’s degree, my immediate response would have been “No.”

Tony Bell on graduation day from San Diego State Universtiy appears with close friend.
Tony Bell on graduation day from San Diego State University appears with close friend.

The reason is that I felt embarrassed and ashamed of the extra help that I needed to fully reach my potential. My upbringing and the stigma of being labeled with a learning disability created many distractions. I never learned how to be a proper student.

This attitude and mentality traveled with me throughout grade school. Luckily, I had sports in my life, which helped me hide from the fact that I needed extra help in the classroom. It also taught me to focus on getting the bare minimum grades so I could continue to be involved in athletics.

How I dealt with my learning disability changed when I became a student-athlete at San Diego State University. I received proper testing to determine the specific areas where I needed support and what accommodations I had to make. I worked with a Learning Specialist in Student-Athlete Academic Support Services at SDSU, who mentored me once a week and often let me sit in on other mentoring sessions. This is where I realized the positive impact that one can have on another’s life. Dealing with my own insecurities and learning how to overcome and gain confidence in myself has driven me to want to work with others like me.

Tony Bell, Reel Urban News Guests Contributor chilling with music producer Norm in the Watts community of Los Angeles.
Tony Bell, Reel Urban News Guests Contributor appears with music producer “Norm” in the Watts community of Los Angeles.

Early in my college career I had many different obstacles in school as well as in my personal life. This led to a drop in my Grade Point Average (GPA), leaving me feeling discouraged. However, midway through college I received my accommodations and fully understood how to use the strategies designed to help me succeed. That was when my GPA began to slowly increase. Those accommodations allowed me to better understand information and put me on the right track to graduate.

In June 2016, I had the wonderful opportunity to volunteer at a company called P.I.T.C.H. Youth Enrichment Center. This is where I had the chance to create a nonviolent, supportive, interactive and engaging environment with youth. I felt overwhelmed with happiness to be involved with children with similar backgrounds as me. I felt that I had connected with the youth with whom I interacted, and it helped me grow and become more patient when helping others. This is what made me consider advancing my education in Rehabilitation Counseling.

Earning a Master of Science in Rehabilitation Counseling will help me better identify the different signs exhibited by children who suffer because they do not know that they have a learning disability. By learning more about learning and other cognitive disabilities, I will be able to work with and better understand those who suffer similar symptoms as me. Knowledge of the medical aspects behind the diagnosis will enhance my ability to counsel. As my knowledge grows, I would like to learn more about other counseling theories.

Tony Bell on graduation day from San Diego State University with family and friends.
Tony Bell on graduation day from San Diego State University with family and friends.

Earning a Master of Science in Rehabilitation Counseling will help me better identify the different signs exhibited by children who suffer because they do not know that they have a learning disability. By learning more about learning and other cognitive disabilities, I will be able to work with and better understand those who suffer similar symptoms as me. Knowledge of the medical aspects behind the diagnosis will enhance my ability to counsel. As my knowledge grows, I would like to learn more about other counseling theories.

As I continue my own journey with this issue, the knowledge I will gain pursuing a master’s degree in Rehabilitation Counseling will allow me to better understand students with learning disabilities. I am dedicated to a career of caring for and helping others; my dream is to help the people whom I understand best.

My education at SDSU and my work with the children of P.I.T.C.H have shown me that a child’s future can be so much brighter with the help of someone who knows and understands their issues first hand. Earning a master’s degree in Rehabilitation Counseling will give me the tools to help others achieve the potential I once thought was out of my reach.

Tony Bell, is a recent graduate from San Diego State University and is embarking upon secondary degree. Bell resides in the Watts community of South Central Los Angeles.
Tony Bell is a recent graduate of San Diego State University and a Reel Urban News Guests Contributor. Bell is currently embarking upon a MS in Rehabilitation Counseling. Bell resides in the Watts community of South Central Los Angeles.

 

 

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