Brian | What life is like (for me)

June 14, 2015   Opinion

Faces of Spina Bifida Magazine | Source

Brian, 24
Los Angeles, CA

Living with a disability can be extremely challenging depending on the level of the condition. My name is Brian Gutierrez and I was diagnosed with Spina Bifida level c3 at birth in addition to hydrocephalus; having a shunt placed due to the amount of brain pressure. Growing up with Spina Bifida, I primarily first utilized a walker when I was seven years old in addition to a wheelchair (only at home). At the age of 10, my mother would take me to physical therapy to see if I can walk without the assistance of a walker or a wheelchair. At the time, my therapist saw potential in my abilities to walk with crutches. At that moment, I was able to walk with crutches, which I still utilize today.

As far as my educational career is concerned, I have had many struggles and triumphs throughout this journey. When I first started junior high school, I was placed in special education courses due to my low level of mathematics. In fact, about 80% of individuals living with Spina Bifida and hydrocephalus struggled with mathematics. In June 2004, I  graduated junior high with a recognition of having the most course units of my entire class. During my time in high school, I was placed in RSP courses, taking courses that were quite more advanced. I struggled, but found ways to improve my study habits. Thankfully, I was able to successfully pass all my required courses. During my senior year, I earned two consecutive honor rolls with a GPA 3.4 and above. In addition, I was awarded a Citizenship award by the Special Education department. 

Recently, I graduated from Cerritos College, earning an Associate's of Arts degree in Sociology with a 4.0 GPA, passing my all my required lower-division Sociology courses with “A’s”. I am now pursuing my B.S. degree in Rehabilitation Services at California State University, Los Angeles. As a disabled college student, it was very challenging transitioning from a high school student to a college student because I now had to be responsible for my own progress. During my time at Cerritos College, I have struggled with mathematics as previously stated. As a result, I was placed on academic probation for 2 years. However, I managed to improve my study habits and utilized resources the college had to offer. Because of it, I was able to successfully pass all my math courses for AA degree. Moreover, I was awarded my first ever scholarship by the Bernard Osher Foundation in Fall 2012. I became involved in student activities as I was the Vice President for the Sociology Club for three consecutive years. Someday, I will become a Counselor/Specialist for disabled students at a college/university setting, a career I dreamed of since I was 7.

In January 2013, I initiated a project known as Disability Moving Forward, which challenges, enhances the disabled youth on an academic and daily enrichment through leadership skills and peer mentorship. I am the President and Co-founder of the organization. Helping individuals with disabilities has aways been my passion. You can find us on Facebook.

Living with a disability is challenging, but one must be optimistic to face these challenges and find ways to go beyond the disability without limits and be successful. Don’t limit yourself because of your character, strive for success with passion.