Cat Lichtenberger (she/her)

Name & Pronouns: Cat Lichtenberger (she/her)

Year: First Year

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

A little about myself:

A big reason I picked St. Ben’s was because of the accessibility office that they have here. I have a few different learning disabilities and received accommodations for them in high school. I was really attracted to the small class sizes, the student accessibility office, and the ability to know my professors and have access to my professors. I knew that I could succeed here because I came from a really big public school, so this smaller size was the change of pace that I needed, and so far it’s been really good for me.

How my disability has impacted my life:

I have ADHD which is pretty common but I also have dysgraphia which is a more unknown type of dyslexia. It’s a writing, spelling and processing issue, not as much reading. I also have slow processing speed. Slow processing speed and dysgraphia are not as well-known so people don’t usually understand them. ADHD is really different for everyone but for me, I’m either hyper-focused on one thing or completely distracted. It kind of goes in waves and I’ve learned throughout the years how to make it an advantage. I know myself and how I learn best as I’ve been dealing with this since I was five years old. I’m really lucky that my parents advocated for me when I was in elementary school to get the proper diagnosis and help because it has really shaped me as a person.

How my disability functions as a strength in my life:

I literally don't know who I would be without my disability. I get asked by people a lot, “if you had the choice would you want this or would you want to be a traditional learner?” and I would choose to have it [disability]. I’ve learned so many different strategies and techniques on how to study or learn information that most people don’t have to do because they don’t have to put in an extra step or extra effort. It's taught me to have a really good work ethic. I’ve also formed really good relationships with my professors and teachers in high school because I have to go to office hours to ask questions so I actually get to know my teachers. It’s been a good thing. There have obviously been struggles, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. My disability makes me, me. I like that I think in a different way—I really like that about myself. I think differently and I can solve problems in a non-traditional manner. My parents really instilled in me that it’s not a disability, but rather it’s a learning difference and it was my responsibility to figure out what I had to do to be successful and how to be a good advocate for myself. Once I changed my mindset and I thought of it as a learning difference, and once I started advocating for myself, I felt more powerful.

Barriers to accessibility I would like to bring to light:

I think it is important that we have people to advocate for folks with disabilities who might be afraid to talk about or share their disabilities, or to get help if they think they may have one. There are people who could really benefit if they advocated for themselves. I would like people to feel more comfortable to go [to student accessibility services]. The resources they have at student accessibility services, and all professors in general, are amazing and I would like for that to be more widely known or for there to be people to help advocate for them [students]—to have someone guide them.