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Mike Mizgala: Supporting Me Through School

Submitted By: Letisia Comstock- Allcorn

For years, written in my Personal Outcome Measures® was one word: College. I had many steps to take to get there including, graduating from my External Diploma Program class (EDP). In 2009, I graduated from my EDP class and was accepted to Herkimer Community College for the fall session. My first year was a huge adjustment. I had teachers who didn’t understand my learning disability, and a few teachers and some students that picked on me.

At the time, my Direct Support Professional Mike Mizgala, would pick me up after class and we would begin working on other goals and Homework. Mike started to see a pattern with me being upset after one class because I was getting picked on, which made learning more difficult. He then suggested we change our time so he could attend classes with me, so he could help me. Our first class was Philosophy. Mike would listen to the lecture and help me organize my thoughts and notes, so when the teacher called on me I knew what to say. And the few times my teacher would “attack” me for my views, Mike taught me to stay calm, how to react and when to react. Mike said, “When he (my teacher) tries to get you upset , you have 2 choices, not say anything or say something that proves my point.”

Once he taught me that, I was able to understand the class better and was able to stand up for myself with facts. The following year Mike took my math class with me. He was there every time I cried and was frustrated beyond belief. Mike realized that I learn best if it’s connected to real life issues so, that was what he did. My fraction homework became a pizza or pie (and if I needed a visual, guess what lunch was… LOL). Math class has always been my biggest fears. Mike really worked with me to help me stay calm and look at every math problem as real life issues.

Through this college class I was finally able to learn to budget for groceries and things for my home without going over budget. When he found out I had passed that math class he told me, “Tish, I knew you could do it. I knew you had it in you all along.” I remember fighting back tears of joy at that moment thinking I’m one step closer to my goal of being a college graduate. I’m currently one class away from graduating. When Mike transferred to another agency my heart was broke, but he still connects with me to help with anything I really need help with. Although, I am blessed with another great DSP. Without Mike helping me I think I would have been defeated by college, not me defeating the college.

2016 Direct Support Professional Recognition Week

This article is part of a campaign during the 2016 DSP Recognition Week, to acknowledge Direct Support Professionals who are helping people achieve their individually-defined outcomes, through the use of Personal Outcome Measures®. This campaign was developed through a partnership between CQL | The Council on Quality and Leadership and The National Alliance For Direct Support Professionals (NADSP).