Flagler student doesn’t let disability slow down her drive

By J.D. Bray | gargoyle@flagler.edu

College life isn’t easy. Uncharted social situations, difficult coursework, strenuous exams and extracurricular activities can cause high levels of stress.

Now add a learning disability to the equation.

Jeannetta-Anne Marco had a traumatic brain injury in 2004 that caused a stroke and put her in a coma. She now lives with short-term memory loss. Almost everyday, she has headaches so bad she can barely lift her head. Her concoction of medications make it hard for her to get up in the morning and eat properly. A bleeding disorder forces her to be careful to avoid scrapes and bruises.

Because of memory loss, learning for Marco is often difficult.

“I read and study everyday, but if I don’t retain the material and get what I need to know into my long term memory, then there is nothing I can do about it,” she said. “I have tried note cards, acronyms, singing songs, everything you can think of. Nothing seems to work any better than the next option I have tried.”

One out of every five people in the United States has a learning disability, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Marco said Flagler College accommodates her needs, but issues often arise with unhelpful professors.

“One (professor) in particular told me that he didn’t know how I made it to college and suggested that I drop out,” she said. Another professor told her there is nothing wrong with her and that helping her would put the rest of the class at a disadvantage.

LDOnLine, a Web site about learning disabilities, says communicating needs is one of the most difficult tasks for disabled college students.

Still, Marco finds most professors to be understanding of her condition.

“The professors overall do try to help as much as they can,” she said. “Most of the professors I have I try to stick with because they work well with me and accommodate me in ways in which really help me to learn the material.”

One thing Marco wants to make clear, she’s not a typical disabled person.

With a double major in psychology and sociology and a minor in pre-law, Marco stays busy. She is active in SGA, she is in a pre-law fraternity and is the public relations representative for Flagler’s Service Club, a community service organization on campus.

Her condition is a disadvantage, not a disability. A self-described caring person with Italian blood that makes her hot-headed, Marco hopes to make a career as a defense attorney.

Her advice to improve the conditions for disabled students at Flagler? Teach the professors.

“I think that the main problem I face here at Flagler is the acceptance from teachers in the classroom,” she said. “Just inform teachers more.”

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