Student follows dream, leading to book on ADD

As a junior at Council Rock High School, in Newtown, Pa., Christina Bryce was told by a guidance counselor that she wasn’t college material.

But Bryce knew that she didn’t want to spend the rest of her life working in a supermarket, where she held a part-time job at the time. So she enrolled in Bucks County Community College, in her hometown, just outside Philadelphia, in the fall of 2000.

A few years later, after transferring to RIT, Bryce realized just how valuable it would’ve been for her, as a high school student with ADD—attention deficit disorder—had she been given better advice on her college dream years earlier. So she dedicated herself to writing a book targeting high school students and their parents. College for Me: A College Guide for Students with Attention Deficit Disorder is Bryce’s just-released self-help book offering advice on finding the right college and tips for college success.

The heart of the problem for prospective college students, Bryce cautions, is that not all colleges are created equal when it comes to providing accommodations for students with ADD. In fact, while many U.S. colleges offer no special services, she says, RIT is one of the best universities in the region for accommodations, particularly because of its Academic Support Center.

“There’s a huge difference. RIT stands out for its learning support services,” Bryce says.

These include the availability of note taking, books on tape or compact disc, drop-in tutoring and untimed tests, with a reader and scribe, if needed, that may be taken in the center rather than a classroom.

RIT also offers structured monitoring, a fee-based program in which a learning specialist monitors students’ academic progress throughout the quarter; and TRiO Student Support Services, a federally-funded program that provides academic support to full-time, matriculated undergraduate students. As she recounted in her book, Bryce even met a professor who had ADD.

The disorder affects the central nervous system, hindering short- and long-term memory. Those with ADD might be easily distracted and may experience dyslexia and difficulty processing information. Although treatable with medication, Bryce says she noticed little change in her symptoms while on medications, and she has since stopped taking them. She maintains a positive outlook on the disorder.

“I don’t see it as a disability, I see it as a gift,” Bryce says. “Without ADD, I wouldn’t be as determined, as hard working and as dedicated to what I am doing.”

A portion of proceeds from College for Me benefits the RIT Bryce Scholarship, which Bryce established to financially assist students with ADD. The first $500 scholarship will be awarded this spring for the 2006-2007 academic year.

Bryce’s book, which she wrote over three years, is available at Campus Connections and, in either hard-copy or digital format, at Editorial assistance was provided by Marianne Buehler, head of publishing and scholarship support services in Wallace Library, and book design and graphics were created by Michelle Amerine, a third-year new media design and imaging major.

Bryce graduates this month with a bachelor’s degree in applied arts and sciences, with a concentration in graphic media and a minor in American history, from the Center for Multidisciplinary Studies in CAST. She also earned certificates in management process and organizational change and leadership. This spring, she will marry Kevin Hui ’05 (information technology). She hopes to land a position with ColorCentric Corp., the Rochester-based on-demand digital printing firm that produced her book, and she eventually plans to begin writing a book on surviving the workplace with ADD.

In College for Me, Bryce, quoting a friend who likened having ADD to climbing a hill with a boulder attached to one leg, wrote, “It may take you longer to get to the top, but you can make it up like everyone else.” She offers practical advice for all students: “College is the time when you must start doing things for yourself.”

It was nearly six years ago when Bryce, setting out in pursuit of fulfilling her dream of attending college, did for herself what no one else—not even a high school guidance counselor—could do. She believed in herself.

RIT News & Events, Feb 23, 2006