LEARNING & EDUCATION

A drive to excel

Cerebral Palsy (CP)

Alina Shaposhnik

Hi, my name is Alina. I'm 39, from Israel. I'm a certified public accountant and a senior manager at a large accounting and consulting firm. I have cerebral palsy and dystonia, due to a difficult birth, that affect my walk, hands, neck and sometimes speech. Since being a child, my wish was to excel academically, and I didn't let anything interfere with it. I loved, and still love, to study and gain knowledge, and I believe every human being is entitled for a good education, that would build his values, maximize his potential and help him make a living. Luckily, I had the brains for it, and though my writing is slow, and every assignment, every exam, each paper, took me about twice a time than that of a person without my disabilities, I did it. I dedicated days and nights to studying, had exams of 5-10 hours, and sometimes sacrificed my social life and health. Whether I can or cannot wasn't a question at all. I graduated with honors from high school, and the same was in university, with my first and second degrees. Was it worthwhile? From a time perspective, I don't have a clear answer. I just know I couldn't act otherwise – it's a matter of personality. You probably think I'm quite a geek, but I do like other stuff besides studying! I play the piano (mostly improvise) and love to write poetry… well, that description doesn't help a lot, so I guess I am a geek… but I'm also very lovable… and very modest, as you see  I always helped my friends with school matters, and have been surrounded with people who like me, though it took me some time to find true friends – also – a matter of personality. I've been working for 15 years in my current workplace, I drive a car and live on my own – all this took, and still take, efforts; sometimes great efforts, and I couldn’t get there without the strong support of my family and friends. My comfort, besides being proud of myself, is that people around me know about my efforts, know what I'm worth and appreciate me for that. A nice "victory moment" was when I had my BA graduation ceremony, and everyone in the crowd stood and cheered me as I went on stage to get my diploma. I must admit, after this rosy description, that over the years I've had many moments of pain and difficult times – like everyone else. I found out that in real life there's no time extension, and the question whether I can or cannot was no more undoubtable. When that happens, I try to call back that little girl, for whom it wasn't a question at all, and sometimes she does come back. So, finally, I believe that what matters is not the disability – it's the personality that prescribes our route of life, for better and for worst. As for me, I always try to keep working on mine, with a smile….

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