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Disability Awareness Week : Emily Eng

Emily Eng

Name & Pronouns: Emily Eng (she/her)

Year: Senior

Major(s)/Minor(s): Psychology Major and Communication Minor

A little about myself:

I am from Hermantown, MN, which is a suburb of Duluth. I am involved in the Psychology Club and Active Minds club, and QPLUS. In addition, I work in the admission office as a student manager. I am a small business owner of "Keep Growing Forward," which brings mental health and sustainability awareness through selling plants. In my free time, I enjoy being outside, whether it is hammocking or being at my cabin on the lake, listening to true crime podcasts, going thrifting, or spending time with my friends.

How my disability has impacted my life:

I was not born with this disability. However, after suffering from two major concussions in high school, I noticed significant changes in my ability to focus on tasks and complete homework. As a result, my neurologist diagnosed me with ADD (Attention-Deficit Disorder), which differs from ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) There is not much of a difference other than there is "hyperactivity" with ADHD. However, both diagnoses are characterized by extreme deficits and the inability to focus and pay attention.

ADD has impacted my life in many ways: my brain constantly feels like it is in motion, jumping from one thought to another. Often, I will find myself talking at lightning speed, especially when I am passionate about something. In addition, my memory is not as good as it was before my concussions, and the biggest challenge I face is my inability to focus on a task for extended periods. 

As a student, ADD creates a barrier to my learning. I am a registered student with the Student Accessibilities Services office and use an accommodation during testing. These accommodations allow me to test in a private room and have extended testing time; this does not give me an advantage over other students but aids in removing barriers that I face. 

How my disability functions as a strength in my life:

I do not let this diagnosis define who I am; ADD is a part of my identity, but it is not all-encompassing. The term "disability" is not one that I think should be used to identify someone; it is stigmatizing and has a negative connotation. I am more than my diagnosis; my brain works differently than most, which is a superpower. I am outgoing and can have a good relationship with anyone I meet. I am outspoken and like to listen to innovative ideas and try new things. My enthusiastic mindset and spontaneous outlook on life are infectious. My mind is creative, and my imagination runs wild; I love starting new projects and adding my style. I can create order from chaotic situations, and I can see the bigger picture.

Barriers to accessibility I would like to bring to light:

Just because someone has a diagnosis or a disability does not mean they cannot do something. Instead, they can do it separately and may need some resources to find what helps them to be able to accomplish something. This does not mean that they are not less of a person. Disabilities can be seen as a superpower.

"Be there for others and listen to them. Support others and check in on those around you. Realize that when someone is different from you, they bring unique and valuable gifts to the table. Get to know them for who they are and not because of their disability."