Profile of a CCISD Graduate, Part 1

Profile of a CCISD Graduate, Part 1
Posted on 05/20/2019
Graduate Profile

By: Sydney Hunt, Senior Communications Specialist

Imagine the stress of starting high school and college simultaneously, all while battling a debilitating condition.

Erynn Richards was only six years old when she found out she had lost all hearing in her left ear.

“My dad took me to the movie theater, and he was trying to talk to me from the left side and I had to completely turn around to hear him,” Erynn said. “So that’s when they knew something wasn’t right and we found out I had no hearing in that ear.”

Then, in eighth grade, she began experiencing symptoms of vertigo due to her right ear having to overcompensate for the loss of hearing in the left ear.

“I already have no balance in my inner ear on the right, so I began to have these episodes where the room would start spinning if I started to get anxious,” Erynn said.

These side effects, which include ongoing spells of dizziness and nausea, can last anywhere from one day to a week or more. She began taking medicine, which helped for a few years.  

“My body got immune to the medicine in tenth grade,” Erynn said. “So, the worst of the symptoms started all over again. I began to miss so many days of school.”

With the rigorous coursework at Clear Horizons Early College High School and her college courses through San Jacinto Community College, she feared that she would not be able to continue to be a part of the program if she continued to miss school due to her health.

“I would sit through classes as the world was spinning around me,” Erynn said. “I had accelerated algebra 2, AP physics and AP world history on my schedule that year. I also knew my college professors wouldn’t be as lenient. It just added to my anxiety, which made the vertigo symptoms even worse.”

After ending up in the emergency room one time due to dehydration, Erynn knew she needed to take charge of her life again.

“I brought it upon myself to figure out better time management since I never knew when I could have another issue,” Erynn said. “I was always staying on top of my work and was so much more determined to do well in my classes so if I had an issue, I would have a little cushion to deal with it. It gave me more of a purpose since I did not want the vertigo to rule the rest of my life.”

This change in mindset has completely altered the course of her high school career. She went from not knowing if she would be able to succeed in her classes, to now graduating summa cum laude from Clear Horizons, earning her associate degree from San Jacinto Community College, and receiving $60,000 in scholarship money. Her dream is to now use her personal struggles as the motivation to help others.

After graduation, Erynn will be attending Stephen F. Austin University to study communication sciences and disorders. She will then go on to get her master’s degree in speech language pathology.

“I had to have speech therapy when I was little due to my loss of hearing, and I just remember not having the greatest experience with the speech therapist,” Erynn said. “However, when my sister went through speech therapy, she absolutely loved her therapist. I remember thinking how impactful that one person was in helping her and that stuck with me.”

Erynn’s interest in the career path grew over the years, and she ended up doing two internships in speech language pathology for a class at school.

“I worked at a clinic and at an elementary school,” Erynn said. “I got the chance to work with young students with autism, and after seeing how sweet and smart they are, I knew I wanted to help in any way I can. So, I plan on working for an elementary school after receiving my degrees.”

As for her advice to other students who might be struggling through a similar situation, Erynn wants them to always keep hope that they will get through it and lean on others for support. Keep looking to the future and you will get to where you want to go, she said.

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