When Imani was a freshman in high school, things were not going well academically and she thought she had little chance of going to college.
Turns out there was a reason she was not succeeding in class. Imani has Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). “Worst of all was not knowing I had it. [My parents and teachers] thought I wasn’t trying hard enough. I was getting Cs and Ds and zoning off in class.” Not only was Imani earning low grades in school — particularly in math-related subjects — she was also forgetful and disorganized.
There were other obstacles, too. Imani's parents couldn't afford to pay for college, and she was concerned about her mom.
“My whole life, she's been sick,” Imani says. “I used to feel ... like I was betraying her by leaving the house and having fun. And I felt if I ever left for college, I would be leaving her.”
Her parents became concerned about her lack of concentration and sent her to a specialist who diagnosed her with ADHD and put her on medication. Imani was then allowed to take extra time on tests and received one-on-one guidance at school. She also made an extra effort in her studies.
“My comprehension of class materials was many times below average when compared to the rest of the class,” she says. “I compensated for this by going to office hours every week. Additionally, if there was extra credit I always completed it so I could boost my grade. I also organized study groups with people who were doing well in the class ... That improved my grades a lot; I ended up graduating with a 3.7.”
Still, Imani worried about her mother and how the family would pay for school. But her mom supported her decision to go to college and, together, they researched scholarships and grants and found a combination that paid for Imani’s schooling. She decided to live with her parents and commute to school so she could still help out at home.
During her freshman year, Imani went through an intensive evaluation process for her ADHD. Based on the recommendations of university mental health professionals, she was given a learning plan that her professors are required to follow. It includes extra time on tests and essays, as well as a note taker who helps her keep track of what happens in class.
In addition to her majors, Imani is studying Chinese. “I've always been interested in traveling outside the United States,” she says, “so living in China is an awesome life experience I look forward to having.”