Memorial Senior Spotlight: Carolyn Branca
Senior Carolyn Branca has been dancing since the age of two; once bored by ballet’s signature classical music, Carolyn has since cultivated her love for the expressive art of dance. Hoping to incorporate dance into her college education, the Memorial High School valedictorian can’t wait to see what’s in store for her future.
While she may be achieving high academic success right now, that wasn’t always the case. Carolyn was diagnosed with dyslexia in first grade, but never received academic accommodations until her freshman year of high school.
“As many young kids do, I related academic success to intelligence,” she said. “Despite great effort, the results of my work were never the desirable outcome. I was simply labeled as ‘dumb’ by teachers and peers.”
Many dyslexic children struggle with feeling confident in the classroom. Carolyn was not different.
“Throughout my path, I had to find my own academic success in order to break the stereotype.” Carolyn said. “I had to prove to myself that I could do it.”
The easiest way to describe her struggle with Dyslexia, she says, is through everyday situations. “I imagine words in my head such as ‘Tuesday’ in my mind; I can visually see the letter, yet I unknowingly say ‘Thursday.’ I only realize my mistake when the faces of peers turn to each other in confusion.”
Explaining Dyslexia to non-Dyslexic students can be quite a difficult task. Despite being the world’s largest learning disability, there are an ample amount of misconceptions surrounding Dyslexia. Carolyn’s mission is to debunk these false ideas.
She does everything that she can in order to help those like her.
“I had someone who advocated for me every step of the way: my mother,” Branca said. “Upon entering high school, I realized that many Dyslexic children don’t have the same support system that I have.”
This realization is what sparked Carolyn’s outreach interest. She has been a member of the Spring Branch ISD Dyslexia Panel since the 11th grade. Every year, a panel is hosted for young, or recently diagnosed, students with Dyslexia.
The panel aims to answer questions about the learning disability, as well as offer academic advice learned from years of struggles and achievements. From the different writing resources, to work to break the stigma surrounding the learning disability, the panel tries to provide answers that they believe would have helped them to hear when they were first diagnosed.
While her vast list of extracurricular activities is ever-growing, one is especially important to Branca: dance.
“I think that dance has helped me to express myself,” Branca said. “As a young kid, it was really hard to communicate my thoughts and feelings with the world. Often, my thoughts would get jumbled. Dance allowed me to express myself without using words, it has allowed me to tell a story without speaking.”
Branca has been a dancer for City Ballet of Houston for over fifteen years. Boasting key roles such as the Snow Queen, Branca is both a skilled student and dancer. Her next performance? This spring during the company’s spring concert.
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