In elementary school, a teacher told Rachel Graham she wouldn’t go to college.
Rachel, the youngest daughter of Will Graham, has dyslexia, a learning disorder that makes it challenging to learn in the normal classroom setting.
At Key School at Carolina Day in Asheville, North Carolina, a school specially geared toward those with dyslexia, Rachel learned how to work through those challenges and thrive.
This spring, she graduated high school with honors and will be transferring over 40 credits to a college in Georgia.
In this interview, Rachel shares her story of perseverance and diligence and how God provided in abundant ways.
Q: You’ve been discouraged in the past over your dyslexia. Four years ago when you were just starting high school, how did you envision your future? And how did that vision change over time?
A: I was told in elementary school that I probably wouldn’t graduate high school, or if I did, I’d be a C or D student, and I probably wouldn’t go to college. I was like, “I just won’t be able to learn?”
That really discouraged me, and it made me scared to make mistakes. I always thought I had to be perfect. In classes, when I saw everyone else doing just fine, I was like, “I don’t understand any of this. Is something wrong with me?”
But once I visited Key School at Carolina Day, it basically changed my life.
I tried to get in fourth-grade year but their school is a small school and they only accept a certain number of kids. I got in my fifth-grade year and it was amazing.
I went there through eighth grade and every year I just loved it because all the teachers were so avid about making sure everyone is learning and everyone is understanding, helping me get the tools I need so that I can succeed in life.
Q: You have now graduated with high honors and are transferring over 40 hours to a Christian school in Georgia. What has pushed you to achieve? What’s motivated you to excel?
A: Key School holds us to a high standard because they want us to learn the most that we can and apply ourselves to do the best that we can. All our teachers hold us to a high standard and keep pushing us, “You can do this. You can be better. You got this!”
Being in that environment really helped me understand, “OK, I can. I can do this. I can push [myself] harder…”
I decided I wanted to help kids with dyslexia, to be that person that tells them that they can do this despite what other people say.
Q: What’s one specific thing you learned about God during high school that you think will stick with you for years to come?
A: One thing I learned basically the whole time is: I know God will provide the right school for me. He provided a way for us to pay for it so I could go there for four years.
God has always provided me a clear answer, especially school wise. He’s always provided a way to get the stuff I need to do and He’s always been there for me.
Q: With graduation season behind us, thousands of people across the country are now preparing for the next chapter. What encouragement can you give those who may not feel confident going into a new stage of life?
A: My advice, be confident in yourself. And know that you’re there for a reason and God’s put you there for a reason and just trust in Him.
For me, I know I stress a lot. I stress and I worry about everything, and so I’m like telling myself to relax. It will be good. God will do what He needs to do with me to help my future teammates and classmates.
I know He has a plan for me and so I’d just say: trust in Him. I know He has everything under control and He knows that where you’re going to be is where you’re going to succeed the most.