Difference in the Making

Name: Patrina Lingard

BA Psychology, 2011

BS Gender Studies, 2011

Best Advice: You have these disabilities; they don’t have you.

Difference in the Making

Patrina Lingard is turning one life-altering Armstrong experience into a noticeable difference in the lives of hundreds of Savannah female youth with her nonprofit, Making Change. Her commitment to helping others partly belongs to her disabilities, which she says, “makes me want to live with purpose.”

After volunteering with S’AID, Street Girls Aid, during a 2010 collaborative study abroad trip to Ghana between Armstrong and Savannah State, Patrina found the desire to help orphaned girls in Ghana. But before addressing a global need, her upbringing forced her to start locally.

“The service opportunity helped me to reflect on what I was missing growing up. Although I felt the need to help girls in Ghana, I knew that the exact need exists in our own front yards with our children,” says Patrina

The experience combined with a required senior project for the completion of her degree in gender studies resulted in Armstrong’s first celebration of International Girls Day.

“When I was looking at senior projects that other students had done, I saw that many focused on the male-female dynamics, but not on a woman’s personal development,” Patrina says.  “I have been an ambassador for Dove’s Real Beauty Campaign since 2007, and so I wanted to incorporate what they were doing with building the self-esteem of young women into my project.”

She hosted international Girls Day under the moniker “Making Change” at the Armstrong center in November of 2011.

“We had over 200 attendees, 6 workshop sessions, free makeovers courtesy of  Savannah Day Spa and received a generous donation of $10,000 worth of  books & supplies from Barnes & Nobles to give to the girls as gifts,” Patrina says.

International Girls Day was not the first time that Patrina was a part of a major  Armstrong event to shed light to societal issues. She collaborated with assistant professor of history, Jason Tatlock, on Lady in Red, a week dedicated to bringing awareness to domestic violence.

“Armstrong students and staff were asked to wear red for solidarity, in reverence for domestic violence victims, and the event peaked with readings in the International Garden of stories, poems, and excerpts by women and victims of Domestic Violence,” Patrina says.

Regardless of the color she chooses or the purpose that it serves, Patrina is adamant that having partial dyslexia and ADHD make her a colorful and interesting person. Only her brain tumor acts as a disability. 

“With partial dyslexia, my greatest challenge is reading because I see words backwards.  So where some people have to read something twice in order to understand it, I have to read it twice just to make sure that what I read matches what is actually on the page, she says. “I have to read it a third time for comprehension.”

“Numbers are also difficult, she says.  “I had to learn how to do math in my head because the numbers may be right on the calculator, but I will write them out of sequence.”

 Patrina has often found that having partial dyslexia has made attaining her dual degrees in psychology and gender studies especially difficult due to their heavy reliance on reading and statistics.

But for Patrina her real impairment is often not recognized as a disability.* 

“The dyslexia and ADHD are catalog disabilities, but they have made me want to do more and live with purpose. For me, my tumor is my disability because when it makes itself aware, it’s debilitating,” she says.

Patrina’s tumor sporadically shifts; causing pressure to be put on critical nerves.

 “When it shifts, I don’t know what’s going to happen. I have had days where my legs have gone out from under me. Sometimes I can’t see because it presses up on my optical nerves, which means that sometimes I need glasses, and other times I don’t,” she says.

Even as frightening as the tumor can be for Patrina, family and friends, she sees it and her other disabilities as gifts.

“The tumor has caused me to become so in tune with my body. I can tell when a shift is about to occur,” she says. “What are disabilities to some are not disabilities to me. They have made me a better person, and I am not sure if disabilities are supposed to do that.”

Written by Kimberleigh Beard

*Note from Kelly Woodruff, Director of Armstrong’s Disability Services: Just to clarify, a condition such as a brain tumor would certainly qualify as a disability under the ADA. Medical conditions often have varying symptoms or are episodic in nature. A physician can verify a student’s disability and the resulting functional limitations. I encourage students who are unsure if they have a disability to schedule an appointment with me so that we can discuss any barriers they are facing in a confidential manner.
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2 thoughts on “Difference in the Making

  1. Just to clarify, a condition such as a brain tumor would certainly qualify as a disability under the ADA. Medical conditions often have varying symptoms or are episodic in nature. A physician can verify a student’s disability and the resulting functional limitations. I encourage students who are unsure if they have a disability to schedule an appointment with me so that we can discuss any barriers they are facing in a confidential manner.

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