‘Surround yourself with people who care about you’

Overcoming learning disabilities, she challenged herself and thrived

Aubrey Robinson struggled with a learning disability, but worked hard to gain skills and confidence

Aubrey Robinson had a tough go before switching to Northview from another district. But once she did, she soared.

She came to Northview in fourth grade. At her previous school, she said, she struggled with school work and had been bullied.

Though it was difficult to make new friends, Aubrey said, “especially in high school people began to see me as this loving, enthusiastic person and they got to know me better.”

“I didn’t know I had a learning disability; I just knew I struggled and I didn’t learn as fast as other kids did,” she said. “It was hard for me to speak to people. I was just so nervous. I had a stutter and I didn’t read at the same pace as everybody else did.”

Through testing in middle school, it was discovered Aubrey has dyscalculia — dyslexia with numbers. She also was transferred to slower-paced English and math classes. Speech class helped her overcome the stutter and her awkwardness in talking to others, particularly those she did not know.

“It’s my story and I’m proud of it, but at the same time there were some struggles,” Aubrey said, a little tearful. “I feel like I learned a lot (about) myself through that transformation.”

Ta-da! Aubrey Robinson

For a couple years, she got helped in math and language “pretty much every day after school,” and by freshman year she was transferred to regular English classes.

By junior year she no longer had to spend an hour a day in academic support class. It was then that she also decided — with some prodding from teachers — “to get out of my comfort zone and challenge myself.” She switched to a regular-paced math class, and signed up for AP language and AP literature classes, as well as a few others that earned her college credits.

She also acted in school plays — “I’ve always wanted to do things that scare me,” she said — and was part of a Students Against Destructive Decisions group at school, as well as a volunteer at district elementary school summer programs.

Heading to Health Care, with Honors

The third child of five — her twin brother is two minutes older — Aubrey has been an honor roll student all four years of high school, and graduated with a GPA of 3.7.

She earned a certified nursing assistant certificate through Kent Career Tech Center, and will start in the fall at Western Michigan University. Her goal: to become a pediatrician.

‘It’s my story and I’m proud of it, but at the same time there were some struggles.’ — Aubrey Robinson

And she will have help: Aubrey was named this year’s recipient of the $1,000 Christopher Atchison “Live the Dream” Memorial Scholarship, given to a Northview grad who plans to go into the health-care profession.

“(Aubrey) is optimistic, she is proactive and she is self-sufficient and a delight to work with,” said counselor Sarah Gammans. “Her success has been all her. Because of her drive to overcome her own challenges, she has shown she is able to understand what others are going through.”

Aubrey insists she could not have done it without the support she has received from her parents, counselors and teachers.

“For the longest time I compared myself to what others in my school were doing. Now, when I reflect on my growth I just think, ‘Oh my gosh, I have been through so much,’” she said.

Her advice to any shy student who struggles in school: “Surround yourself with people who care about you, and don’t be scared. People are there who can help.”

Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema is a Grand Rapids native and a product of Grand Rapids Public Schools, including Brookside and West Leonard elementaries, City Middle/High School and Ottawa Hills. She found her tribe in journalism in 1997 and has never wanted to do anything but write. For 15 years she was a freelance journalist for The Grand Rapids Press, covering local schools and government, religion, business, home & garden and lifestyles. She and her husband, John, think even those without kiddos should be invested in their local schools and made to feel a part of them. Read Morgan's full bio

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