Dr. Myrna Orenstein: from LD to Ph.D.
In a way, I was fortunate. I grew up in the Fifties when academic requirements were different — one could still “get away” with stuff. As a music major in high school and college, only the bare necessities in math and science were required of me. I was allowed to take Glee Club rather than having to take things like chemistry and calculus. My geometry teacher dubbed me the most inept student she had ever passed. I found freedom in the professional music world. I went on to sing in Chicago’s premiere opera and symphony choruses, a world in which no one cared about math or science.
When I began my second career as a psychotherapist, I was for the first time truly forced to confront my slow areas. I pursued a master’s degree at the University of Chicago and discovered that “getting around” learning gaps was indeed a challenge. A tutor, for example, was a necessity in order to deal with statistics. After completing the master’s program, I started up my own private practice. I returned to school, while continuing to run my practice, in order to earn a PhD in social work.
Even now, my areas of weakness continue to be confounding. Math and science are not the only areas I struggle in. I have an atrocious sense of direction. Never in a million years could I drive cross-country. I’d most likely arrive in California before I realized that I missed my turn off for Maine. I also struggle with following instructional diagrams. If a crisis required reading a diagram to construct a bicycle in five minutes (or even five hours) trouble would be afoot.
I can comfortably reveal my weaknesses now because I have found a world in which I can use my strengths and get around my deficits. My math and science skills still are and will always be terrible. But fortunately, in the career I have chosen and love, I seldom have to use them.