JENNY MAILANDER - ADHD Warrior

I live in Chicago, IL with my fiance, Ryan. I graduated from Indiana University Bloomington with a major in Spanish and minors in Psychology and Education. Later, I received my Masters in World Language Education from Loyola University Chicago. I currently teach Spanish in Chicago Public Schools. This is my first year teaching, and I worked in corporate sales before becoming an educator. In the future, I see myself continuing to work in the education sector.

School was challenging for me because I have ADHD. This was an obstacle that I had to learn to overcome. For example, I had to take tests in other rooms because it was difficult for me to concentrate in large classrooms with a lot of distractions. I attended Indiana University Bloomington right after high school but struggled choosing a major and career path. I eventually chose Spanish because of my passion for learning about other languages and cultures, but I did not know what I wanted to do with my major. I was able to graduate in three and a half years due to the number of credits that I had, but I struggled after college finding a job because I did not have a technical concentration such as business or medicine.

I worked several corporate sales jobs before deciding to go back to school for a Masters degree in education. I chose education because Spanish is my passion, and I wanted to share it with students. Also, I felt like I could use my past struggles with my learning difference to help students. Going back to school was challenging both financially and mentally. I walked away from a salary and benefits in order to go to school. I also had to pay for tuition and living expenses. I didn't remember how to do a lot of things like buying textbooks, writing essays, or completing group projects. I was also one of the oldest students in my program. This was a challenge because it was difficult at times to connect with the other students, but it was also an advantage. For example, since I had taken time away from school in order to think about my career goals, I felt at times like I was more motivated and committed to the program.

My main challenge has been finding my career path. One person who helped me stay positive was my grandmother who passed away in July. She was born in the 1930s and was raised by a single mother. She received her Masters in Education from Indiana University and was an elementary school teacher for many years. It was very rare back then for a child to not be raised by two parents, and it was also rare for a woman back then to have a Masters degree. She taught me about the importance of education from a very early age and taught me how to be a strong woman.

I have found that the best way to deal with daily challenges is to maintain a healthy lifestyle. I also choose to spend time with people who share the same values as I do.

 "I graduated from Indiana University five years ago. This picture is three generations of IU graduates. My grandma came from difficult circumstances, but always made education her priority. She knew something that I have learned only through teaching - when you come from poverty, education is one of your only ways out. I am honored to be following in her footsteps. She also had a masters degree in education and taught elementary school for many years - something she loved and talked about her entire life."- Jenny Mailander

"I graduated from Indiana University five years ago. This picture is three generations of IU graduates. My grandma came from difficult circumstances, but always made education her priority. She knew something that I have learned only through teaching - when you come from poverty, education is one of your only ways out. I am honored to be following in her footsteps. She also had a masters degree in education and taught elementary school for many years - something she loved and talked about her entire life."- Jenny Mailander