(Editors Note: This is a class presentation that Friends member Aileen of New York gave to her tenth grade class.)

Hi my name is Aileen. I am the oldest of 3 children and I have a dog named Maggie who is almost 3 years old and gets treated like the fourth child. Sometimes I think she gets more attention then I do. Being the oldest means I am the one who has to do everything first. Sometimes this is a good thing, though sometimes I wish I had someone older than me to go through everything first.

As I was writing this I couldn’t think of anything I am extraordinarily good at, but then something hit me. Something that I usually don’t bring up ever to people because I am still embarrassed by it. That thing is stuttering. I know it seems like an odd thing to be good at, but since I’ve been stuttering since I could talk I figured I must have mastered it by now. Stuttering is a big part of me. Did you know that a lot of famous people stutter? Winston Churchill, Marilyn Monroe, and Bruce Willis are just a few to name. I figured that if these people could do the great things they did, the least I could do was step out of my comfort zone and not only make this speech, but mention to you that I stutter. As opposed to pretending it’s not there and panic every time I’m called on because I don’t want people to judge me when they hear me stutter. Some parts of stuttering stinks, but some aren’t so bad. Sure it gets frustrating not being able to say things fluently or having to struggle some days when my stuttering gets rough, but I have met some amazing people who also stutter and their stories have inspired me to try to be more comfortable with it. But enough about stuttering because although stuttering is a big part of me, that is not the only part. I also enjoy going to the beach and hanging out with friends. I love going on vacations and someday want to travel Europe.

I hope that you remember me as someone who doesn’t want to be judged because of my stuttering and instead as someone who is a normal teenager.

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