Meet McKenzie

Age: 20
Hometown: Minneapolis, MN
Studying: AA General Studies
Began: January 2008
Graduated: December 2009

Goal: Take the next semester off, and attend a four-year school next fall. McKenzie has applied to several colleges and has been accepted at Northeastern, Clark and DePaul. She plans to major in psychology and be a clinical psychologist OR major in advertising and work in product development.

Background: Diagnosed with dyslexia in third grade, McKenzie's mom acted as her advocate and provided significant support. With her mother’s help, McKenzie “battled” for learning aids such as Kurzweil 3000 and Dragon. She took AP and IB classes and was student body president at Southwest High School in Minneapolis. McKenzie ended up lobbying for special education funding with her mother and spoke before the Minnesota State Legislature (Senate Education Budget Committee).

McKenzie could have gone directly to a four-year college, having been accepted at several major universities. She chose Landmark instead. “I was so frustrated. I couldn’t find the right school with the support and services I needed to succeed. Then, I found Landmark and it was the right choice,” she says.

Arriving here at age 18, McKenzie was worn out. She’d spent years hiding her dyslexia from schoolmates, while struggling to make As and Bs. During her senior year, she “came out” in a big way, attracting media attention as an activist testifying before the Minnesota State Legislature about the need for special education funding. The whole experience was exhausting.

“I was totally burned out. I put a lot of energy into keeping my dyslexia a secret, but I was totally out my senior year,” she says. “Coming here was a big relief. It was nice to be in a supportive environment where I could really enjoy my classes."

“Landmark made a big difference in my life,” says McKenzie, who plans to study marketing next fall back home in Minneapolis. “I’m more confident and comfortable because I understand my disability now. My anxiety over writing papers eased through practice and support. I know my rights and how to be a self-advocate. I’m ready to move on. I think I will do well.”

Note: McKenzie graduated in December 2009. She’s been accepted into several schools, but is waiting to hear from her top choice: Minneapolis College of Arts and Design in her hometown. Her second choice is Augsburg College in Minneapolis, where she was offered generous scholarship support.