By Garrett B., Brain Cafe Coordinator
April 4th, 2012 was a beautiful, sunny morning. I could have thought of millions of other activities I would’ve rather done than sit in a dark office for two hours taking a cognitive and math assessment. My frustration with school had reached a maximum and my understanding of fundamental math concepts had plummeted to the point where I struggled to simply add two numbers together. Furthermore, I began to fail classes in my second year of college. My parents had provided private tutors since grade school. This always helped me but the results never lasted. Two years previous, my public high school had declined our request to have me tested for learning disabilities. Yet, my mom was determined to find the underlying cause of my math struggles. My mom heard about the Educational Resource Group and decided to have me utilize it as a potential last resort. In the back of my mind, I pondered the importance of school and an education altogether. However, those two brief hours on that spring day lead to some of the best occurrences of my life so far.
Based on the results from my assessment, Dr. Perez and my case manager prepared an individualized plan that included both training exercises and activities tailored exclusively to my own brain. I was assigned a coach with similar personality traits and interests. My coach and I would cover various cognitive procedures. One of my favorites was a procedure known as Efficiency Stroop. Initially, I disliked this exercise, but grew to enjoy it because it was a challenge and I still was able to see progress. It greatly contributed to my increase in processing speed. While in session, we would also work on math activities. My coach taught me new ways to add, subtract, multiply, and divide numbers. It turns out the method I was taught in grade school to make these basic calculations just didn’t work for me. By learning new methods here, I was able to grasp the true importance of mathematics.
Besides cognitive training, I also worked on academic and life skills with my coach. I always thought of myself as a visual learner. One day, my coach had me take a short test that proved I was actually an auditory learner. From there, we practiced note-taking and study techniques that were more conducive my learning style.
Since that initial assessment day, things have changed. My confidence and self-esteem are through the roof. I haven’t come across a single individual that doesn’t find my ability to say the United States presidents’ names forwards in order or backwards in only 40 seconds to be anything less than impressive. I have exceeded my own personal expectations for my grades and accomplishments. In fact, my entire life has been affected in such a positive way. Overall, I realized I have the potential to show the world that I can make a difference and benefit society in ways I never thought possible.
At the end of every session, I had to list one improvement that had occurred since our last session. These could include anything from getting a good grade in school to succeeding in a real-life challenge.
Here are my top ten improvements:
- I realized I had more potential that I was not expressing in my job.
- I was proactive in seeking out information about the human brain.
- I have improved my ability to solve fractions in real-life situations.
- I am reading more for pleasure.
- I was able to focus on my math professor through auditory senses.
- I was able to count mentally and keep the number in my head while physically adding items.
- I got a 95% on my Psychology midterm.
- I passed College Algebra.
- I am better at handling distractions.
- I applied to a transfer university.
I have since graduated from my program. I learned so much and gained so many skills. These skills will help me to improve throughout the rest of my life. My processing speed, long term memory, and math fluency were the most drastic improvements.
Before entering college, I intended to study Landscape Architecture. I began taking a few Psychology classes in college and was instantly hooked. I found its topics to be intriguing and looked forward to going to class. I have now changed my major to Psychology and I am proud to announce my title as the Brain Caf├® Coordinator at the Educational Resource Group. I was thrilled to be offered a job here and I thoroughly enjoy it. There is a running joke that I will never leave this organization. From student to staff member and friend, I will always consider the Educational Resource Group to be family. I have learned so much and have had the opportunity to work with a broad range of great people and personalities. Every single staff member is absolutely great. Everyone has a genuine interest in helping their students succeed and the patience to do so. Everyone is always in a good mood and I think that helps to promote an efficient work environment for both staff and students. I can’t imagine my life without the Educational Resource Group.