Laura Kirkpatrick was the runner-up during season 13 for petite models of America’s Next Top Model, hosted by Tyra Banks. From Kentucky, Laura worked with cattle as one of her primary jobs before appearing on the show. She was voted fan favorite in a poll the show held, and if I had to guess, I would say her warm and bubbly personality had a lot to do with that. Overcoming the obstacles that dyslexia put on her road with persistence and humor, she inspires many to realize that they too can succeed, even if they are petite in a field of giants, or dealing with a different learning capacity such as dyslexia. She created The Beautiful Minds dyslexic foundation, a non-profit charity that helps thousands of kids and parents. I chose to interview her to illustrate how we can overcome challenges, disabilities, handicaps and self-created «handicaps» such as low confidence. I like to show inspirational examples of what I consider an accomplishment to my clients who face various difficulties, which is why I do these interviews. Laura’s natural beauty definitely shines through also in her words.
Caroline C Stolzy -What was it like to be dyslexic as a child? Do you remember how it became apparent to you?
Laura Kirkpatrick – I was diagnosed in the 8th grade after a lot of fighting with the teacher because he thought I was a troubled child and I thought I was being singled out. I had little confidence about my intelligence and I didn’t know what it meant to be dyslexic. I struggled so much and many people didn’t expect much from me. I wanted to prove everyone wrong. I knew I was different and that I thought differently but I never knew why.
Caroline -What is a good way for childhood friends and adults to treat or help such a child?
Laura -The best way is to teach the child what it means to be dyslexic, to teach not to be embarrassed, and to speak openly about it. They need to learn that it’s not a disability, it’s a learning difference.
Caroline -What do you wish people knew about dyslexia?
Laura -I wish people knew that it’s more than just seeing letters backwards, it’s a language problem. That means understanding what I read or the way some people talk is difficult for me. My biggest struggle is my speech. I don’t pronounce words correctly which can make me look unintelligent and I often get made fun of. Dyslexic people have trouble hearing phonological sounds.
Caroline -What daily life situations can an adult with dyslexia find challenging?
Laura -Everyday life is difficult. You can read map directions wrong, maybe you can lose a job because you see 1212 instead of 2121 and showed up at the wrong place. It’s hard to balance your checkbook or simply to have people take you seriously. A lot of people struggle with low confidence.
Laura -Mostly just being open about being dyslexic and explaining to people. Then they can be more understanding about the situation. Often I will get a loved one to look over important events and if it’s something I can print I will print it out in big clear print and highlight every other line.
Caroline -Would you say that being dyslexic has kept you from accomplishing yourself in some way?
Laura -Yes and no. Being dyslexic is a blessing and a curse. On one hand it has given me the struggles I have needed to push myself harder. On the other hand, if I could read and spell better, I would get through life a lot easier and people would take me more seriously.
Caroline -What are some good ways to preserve self-confidence and a positive outlook which you have found?
Laura-I still struggle with this but what I do is tell myself two things: 1. I’m being too hard on myself. 2. Everyone is beautiful in a special way. You should find what makes you special and embrace it. I usually find myself being stressed about more things than I realize when I do get down on myself.
Caroline -What is a good way to get out of a rut?
Laura -Surround yourself with good positive people and be careful who you take advice from. Together, positive thinking and prayer will get you through it all.
Laura -I think people know they can but they know it will be hard so they make a choice to not dive into a situation that they know will make them uncomfortable. Nobody wants to willingly put themselves in that kind of situation. It takes a strong person to do so.
Caroline -How would you say that you were able to succeed in modeling despite being petite and dyslexic?
Laura -Positive attitude and perseverance. I never gave up and I never let anyone’s negative talk get to me. People hire me because I have a personality that they enjoy being around and once hired, I proved I was willing to work hard.
Caroline -What do you like and dislike about the fashion world?
Laura -What I like is that it’s different every day. I get to express myself in ways that most people don’t ever get to. I dislike the huge body image problem in modeling. There are tons of beautiful women walking around feeling self-conscious.
Caroline -What would you like to let people know about The Beautiful Minds foundation that you have founded?
Laura -I would like people to know that we are a non-profit organization that raises awareness on dyslexia. We believe the best way to help dyslexic kids is to educate the child, the teacher, the parent and the general population so that together, we can all understand and have the power of knowledge. We also raise funds for scholarships for higher education schools, for tutoring and some learning programs for teachers.
Note: For more interviews, check out the Sharings section found on the top menu. :)
Click here for more information on «The Beautiful Minds» dyslexic foundation
You can also find her on Facebook
Follow Laura’s model life on her website
Photo Credits, from the top: Alex Baily – Angela Marklew (2nd & 3rd) – Mike Lane – Ali Ann
Featured photo on homepage: ANTM