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Access, Instructors, Hard Work Help Green Succeed

Nadia GreenNadia Green never found school particularly easy. There were always challenges throughout grade school and then into high school. 

It wasn’t until their senior year that Green, who prefers to use the pronouns they and their, was diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum. 

“It was definitely a relief to understand there were things I was struggling with that everybody else seemed to understand just fine and that there was a reason for it,” Green said. 

Green overcame those challenges with a ton of hard work, along with the help of the Access office and professors at St. Louis Community College-Forest Park to graduate with a nursing degree in December. They provide acute care for elderly patients at Saint Louis University Hospital and plan on taking the registered nurse board exams Feb. 14. 

Green received services in grade and high school, but when they reached college those types of supports dropped off. It was a different and more challenging world and they struggled to find a solid footing. 

Green’s first attempt at college didn’t work well, and when they returned to another school a few years later, there still were challenges. But once Green came to Forest Park, they found the assistance needed to succeed.

“When I found out that I could have things like testing accommodations, it was great,” they said. “I went to the Access office, and they told me exactly what I needed to get those accommodations. So that was very nice.”

Telitha Rogers-Anderson has worked in the Access office for 15 years and currently serves as the manager of the four-person team. She said that the Access office wants to help students with temporary and permanent disabilities seek accommodations, such as students on the autism spectrum, diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADD/ADHD), visual impairments and other conditions.   

“We don’t want students to suffer in silence,” Rogers-Anderson said. “We want to help them. The key to getting help is to ask for it.”

It’s critical that students self-disclose a disability so Access and faculty can proactively work together to ensure the student has an equitable learning experience across all STLCC programs. 

It wasn’t necessarily smooth sailing once Green arrived at Forest Park. They struggled with some of the instructors because of how the class was taught, but the experience was better than what Green had at their other academic stops.

Green said self-disclosure proved the best way to get the help they needed. They said one of the biggest struggles was fully grasping the main points of a lecture because they processed all information as equally important. 

Green said it’s like leading a horse to the water, but the horse doesn’t understand what the water is or why it matters. 

Green realized the best way to approach the difficulties was head on.

“I have had teachers who I went straight up to them and said ‘Hey, I’m autistic and I don’t understand any of this,'” Green said. “They’d sit down with me and take the time to help me understand. Especially in the nursing program, every teacher I went to like that was more than willing to help me.”

One of those instructors Green had was Karen Mueller, who works with third-semester nursing students. She spent a lot of time with Green to understand how they processed information and that Mueller’s lecturing style didn’t necessarily conform to that style.

Mueller knew Green put in plenty of time studying, but wasn’t getting the scores on exams they should get considering how much work they put in. Instead of changing everything for one student, Mueller worked with Green independently by instructing Green to outline the lectures during studying, then review this with the class’ instructor to home in on the main points of the lecture content. 

By meeting with Mueller, Green was able to get the individualized instruction needed to prioritize and apply the information which was the missing link for exam success. Green just needed to learn how to step back and put the big picture together – for nursing this is application of concrete information.

“It was just working with Nadia, talking to them and really listening and drilling down on what they were doing independently,” Mueller said. “I didn’t guide them. Nadia just needed additional information on priority information, and that was probably what they developed as they went through the rest of the course work for their degree. 

“I think less and less they had to go to the faculty and ask if they were on point,” Mueller added. “I think they learned how to listen to the information, write down what they felt was the priority and then listen again.” 

Green said Mueller’s help, along with that of the nursing faculty, was pivotal in helping them graduate. 

“Never in my entire school career from kindergarten to now had that really happen to me,” Green said. “It was huge.”

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