Best Buddies Impact on College Essays
As our high school seniors enter the college application season they are tasked with sharing what has shaped their lives and what they want to do next. Theresa Colandreo, a senior at Olympic Heights in Boca Raton and a member of her Best Buddies Chapter, shared her college essay with us. Her passion to share Best Buddies with the next generation and her reasons why made an impact on us. Theresa writes:
Sometimes the things you can’t change end up changing you. My older brother, Michael, was born with multiple disabilities which inspires me to pursue a purpose-driven life. As children, my sister, Audrey, and I played with him and became his cheerleaders, but we could clearly see his struggles with tasks that came easy to us. As I got older, Michael’s developmental delays became more evident to me. My parents always included him in all activities, but Audrey and I noticed that we were surpassing him. Milestones we reached quickly he still struggles with.
As children, we observed Michael’s therapy sessions where we witnessed his accomplishments and the wonderful work speech and occupational therapists did with him. We treasured his simple successes in things most people take for granted. Seeing his progression brought so much joy that it inspired us to emulate the techniques of the therapist at home. To me, there is no better feeling than to positively impact someone’s life by assisting them in becoming as independent as possible and build their confidence. These passions of mine have led me to seek a career in occupational therapy. My sister found her calling and is currently pursuing her master’s degree in speech and communication disorders at the University of Florida.
Seeing my brother and the other kids with their everyday struggles made me realize there are many people in need. This was instrumental in my participation throughout high school in organizations such as Student Government and the Best Buddies Program. Best Buddies is a nonprofit organization dedicated to establishing a volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-on-one friendships for people with intellectual and developmental delays. Our program pairs special needs students with buddies who help them navigate high school life by eating lunch and walking to class together and participating in group social events which hopefully plant the seeds for friendships to form. These positive experiences become meaningful to all involved especially the families of the students.
As president of Student Government this year, I started the process with the assistance of Best Buddies of Palm Beach County to establish a program in the middle school I attended Eagles Landing. The goal is starting these friendships at the earliest age possible to help the younger generation gain insight into a whole new world. In retrospect, I feel blessed to have my brother, Michael, for it was through his struggles and successes I have been able to find my passion in life.
In the words of Helen Keller, “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched-they must be felt with the heart.” This resonates with me and pushes me towards the path of providing service to others. Having the ability to engage in daily life as much as possible is something everyone should experience no matter what their disability, and I want to be a part of assisting them along their journey.