Jeremy Poincenot is a nationally recognized speaker and blind golf champion. He is a graduate of San Diego State University.
As a 19-year-old sophomore in college, I went legally blind in just 2 months. This was due to a rare genetic disorder called Leber’s Hereditary Optic Neuropathy (LHON). This was by far the toughest challenge I had ever faced in my life up to the point.
Instead of treating this as a setback, I choose to look at it as an opportunity. In fact, I’m thankful that it happened to me in college. College is a time for new experiences and I was able to grow and learn from this life changing event at my own pace.
Here are 5 things I learned after losing my sight that will help you succeed in college.
1. Get Involved!
I am a fraternity member (Sigma Phi Epsilon) and highly recommend being a part of Greek life on campus. The community and bond I formed with members of the Greek system helped me during my time of need.
After losing my sight, I got more involved on campus. I joined Rotaract (the college version of Rotary), a service-oriented organization. I also met new people who were highly involved on campus and weren’t a part of Greek life.
Getting involved on campus will help you meet new people with whom you will have common interests. If you are thinking about it, do it! What’s the worst thing that could happen? If you find you don’t like one organization, then try something else.
2. Pursue Your Passions
Too often in college my friends would do what they “had” to do rather than what they “wanted” to do. What is it that you want to do? Are you doing that now, while you’re in college?
One thing I’m passionate about is the game of golf. While in college, before losing my sight, I took a golf class. It was a great way to have fun and break away from the grind of school to do something different.
Since losing my sight, I’ve competed in blind golf tournaments all over the world. I didn’t let this life-altering situation stop me from pursuing my passions – don’t let things get in the way of pursuing yours.
3. True Friends Rush to You When Others Flee
After losing my sight I learned about true friendship. Many classmates wouldn’t want to talk about it or talk to me at all. However, my true friends spent a lot of quality time with me. They would ask me how I was doing and treat me like anyone else, which is exactly what I wanted.
If someone is going through a tough time in college, reach out to them and offer support. Find a way to spend time with them.
4. Don’t Hesitate to Ask
On the other side of the coin, if you are struggling and people aren’t actively coming to you, it’s ok for you to reach out to them. Most times people are unaware of our challenges. From my experience, when they learn about what we are going through, they are usually willing to help in whatever capacity they can.
In school, class, or in organizations don’t hesitate to ask questions. You’re in school to learn and the best way to learn is by asking questions
5. Be Grateful
After losing my sight I realized how precious everything we have is and how quickly it can be taken away. It’s so easy to be caught up in the life we live and take it all for granted. If there’s one thing you can practice to live a better life, it’s gratitude.
I think we complain too much in college. And once one person complains about something it opens the floodgates for the rest of us to chime in on what’s going wrong in our lives.
Take some time today to think about what you’re grateful for. The people around you, the school you attend, and the fact that you’re able to attend college at all. We’re very lucky with the lives that we lead. Lets focus more on the good we have in our lives than complain about the things we don’t have.
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