Forced Graduate to Create Own Path for Success
1, 2000 -- Diagnosed with severe dyslexia at age
five, Bryson Patterson was told that he would never finish high
school. Despite a learning disability that causes him to read slowly
and spell poorly, Patterson will earn a bachelor's in history
May 21 from the University of Virginia after conducting extensive
Civil War research.
his senior thesis in history, he researched coastal fortifications
used during the Civil War. Working with his advisor, noted Civil
War scholar Gary Gallagher, Patterson read dairies from the 1860s,
tattered records exchanged between Civil War generals and fragile
copies of speeches held by veterans groups and the Daughters of
the Confederacy. Although the dyslexia makes reading a slow, laborious
process, he does not regard it as a handicap -- just "a way
of life" -- and found the long hours of research "a fun,
complete his studies through high school and at U.Va., Patterson
relied heavily on listening to the full texts of books on tape provided
by the Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic. A lover of history,
he was limited during high school days by what books the Recording
for the Blind and Dyslexic had in its library. At U.Va. staff members
of the Learning Needs and Evaluation Center would contact professors
to learn what books would be appropriate resources, purchase the
volumes, and then read aloud the material while recording it. Patterson
could take the tapes home and listen to them while following along
with the text.
wonderful to be living in a time where there is so much technology
to help the dyslexic," Patterson said, adding, "I'm
fortunate to have parents who have recognized my problems and made
things available to me."
hearing that the dyslexia would so likely frustrate their son that
he would fail in school, his parents, Robert and Maureen Patterson,
sought tutors to help him. From the ages of five through 13, he
spent two hours a week working with tutors who helped him read,
spell and pronounce words. "If it weren't for those tutors,
I don't think I would be able to read. If it weren't for
them, I don't think I would enjoy studying. I thank God my
parents could pay for the tutoring to meet my special needs. My
parents made a lot of sacrifices," he said.
graduate of Notre Dame Academy in Middleburg, VA, Patterson enjoyed
success in high school. He served as student council president and
was on the honor roll. After a year at Hampden-Sydney College, he
transferred to U.Va. because of its national reputation.
graduating from U.Va., he and two Hampden-Sydney graduates plan
on hiking the Appalachian Trail. Although he admits he is "not
placing any bets on finishing" the 2,200-mile trail that runs
from Maine to Georgia, he and his friends have set a goal of completing
the trek by Thanksgiving.
he hikes, Patterson plans on thinking about how to revise his senior
thesis. He hopes to find a journal to publish it after he completes
paper, with a bit more research and some revisions, has strong potential
to be published in one of the popular Civil War journals,"
said history professor Gallagher. "He analyzed the evidence
from a fresh perspective."
more information, Patterson can be reached through May 22 at (804)
Ida Lee Wootten, (804) 924-6857