We met this young man years ago in one of our middle school guitar programs.  It was some time after he wrote this college scholarship essay, that one of the readers – familiar with our work – forwarded it on to Matt Hinsley.  We post it here with permission.

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A Scholarship Essay

School has never been easy for me.

I was diagnosed with dyslexia in the third grade. When I was in the fifth grade I thought of myself as a loser and the stupidest kid in my school. My mom would cry every time she saw me struggle with my homework. I would hit myself in the head while I was doing my work, asking myself, “Why am I so stupid?”

In the middle of fifth grade I transferred to a private school named Rawson-Sanders School for Dyslexic Children in West Austin. There I met friends and teachers who helped me understand my disability and become who I am today.

My friend Christian came to Rawson-Sanders when we were in the sixth grade, and he is one of the funniest and craziest people I know. He plays guitar, he always knows what to say, he is fit, and he is extremely smart. I wanted to be just like him.

I left Rawson-Sanders at the end of seventh grade because the school’s academic language therapists were happy with my reading skills…I could read more fluently, and my guitar playing was improving.

When I went to Lamar Middle School in eighth grade, they offered a classical guitar program that I just couldn’t refuse. I practiced hard and studied hard in school…at the end of eighth grade I was accepted as a classical guitar major at McCallum Fine Arts Academy at McCallum High School.

I love playing guitar, and I’m good at it. I excel at it and it makes up for other classes being so hard for me. I love making music and listening to it and I am so glad that I am able to read music. The classical guitar greats that I really like to listen to are Pepe Romero, Pavel Steidl, Rodrigo y Gabriela. I love to practice guitar, and I love to perform, especially in ensemble. I’ve had great opportunities in classical guitar, such as performing the World Premiere of “Powerman,” written by Graham Reynolds of Austin.

All of these experiences have made me who I am today. Rawson-Sanders saved my education and saved my future in life. McCallum High School made it possible for me to excel in classical guitar, and my teachers introduced me to books I never thought I would be able to read.

I’m looking forward to going to college – the next step in my life – and this scholarship will help me with my goal: to study mechanical engineering.

–       Zach M. 

Read our previous Changing Lives story: Like So Many Strings on a Grand Guitar