A Decade of Determination

By Susan Paff

Erin Browning never fully participated in class during her elementary school days. While the other kids were quickly skimming through text, Erin was still figuring out individual words.

“I avoided reading at all costs because I was scared to read in class,” Erin said. “I didn’t know simple words that everyone else did. It wasn’t that I did not understand or comprehend the word. I just couldn’t read the words; therefore, I couldn’t comprehend what I was reading.

She never let the other kids realize that she was struggling though. Erin always put on the facade that she was doing well when in reality she was seeking extra help from teachers after school. Erin’s parents told her when she was about 9 years old that she had a learning disability called dyslexia. Her parents carefully explained even though her brain worked differently, she could still excel at school if given the right tools.

“I asked them if I was stupid,” Erin said. “They assured me that I was smart, just needed some extra help.”

That help came from the staff at Total Learning Centers and the multiple programs in which Erin participated. TLC discovered Erin also had some processing issues and attention issues in addition to the dyslexia and designed a custom education plan for Erin.

Throughout her nearly 10 years she spent working with TLC education specialists, Erin participated in a variety of programs aimed to remediate her specific weaknesses. In her time at TLC, Erin took CET Plus, World of Reading, Alphabetic Phonics, Play Attention, Eye Q, and Rewards. All of these programs were designed to remediate a different aspect of the brain and give her the extra boost she needed to help her excel at school. As she got older, she took SAT Prep, math tutoring and writing tutoring to help develop those skill sets as well.

“I started to realize that I was not the only one struggling in school and became very comfortable very quickly,” Erin said.

Erin remembers thinking when she started attending TLC that she was determined to get A’s in school. Her goals have definitely grown even bigger since then. Erin gained the academic tools she was missing and she exudes confidence both in and out of the classroom.

Erin just finished her freshman year at Mercyhurst College, earning a 3.5 GPA. She is setting new standards for other students with similar learning disabilities as well. Erin is the first “learning different” program student at Mercyhurst to be in the college’s honors program. Erin sets very high expectations for herself. Now that studying is easier, Erin hopes she will be able to learn Spanish well and travel abroad to study in Spain next winter.

At college, Erin is taking a double major in international business and marketing with a pre-law minor. She said she hopes her combined skill set will enable her to pursue a career in America and Spain as a marketer or lawyer. She’s not sure yet exactly what she wants to do, but she knows she wants to pursue her MBA as well.

“Without TLC, I would never have been able to dream of what I am doing now. I would have never been able to graduate (high school) or be in the honors program (at college),” Erin said. “I would not be able to achieve a lifelong goal of mastering a second language. TLC has not just helped me in the classroom, but helped me gain the confidence in life to succeed at anything that I put my mind to.”