Sophia: ESP Participant Turned Intern

Hi everyone! My name is Sophia and I’m an 18-year-old student at North Oconee High School. I’ve been an ESP participant for a little over five years and I’m now working at ESP as an intern to learn more about the workforce as part of my vocational placement. I hope to learn about leadership skills and how to better use technology to my advantage.

Sophia outside wearing a white dress, a yellow necklace, and glasses

I first moved to Watkinsville in 2010 and found out about ESP through my dad. He kept insisting I should go check it out, and I finally did. I went to the pre-launch for ESP’s new building and I loved how warm and inviting the people were. I felt as though I could confidently go anywhere I wanted without having to think about falling or experiencing anxiety. I expanded my horizons and saw that there’s always someone there smiling and excited to talk to me, and I also learned that when things don’t go as planned, it’s an adventure. I’ve never been one that has liked change, but it has been easier to deal with thanks to ESP.

The biggest adventure I’ve had at ESP as a participant thus far has been Big Hearts, ESP’s largest fundraiser of the year. I got to showcase my public speaking skills while being onstage, looking and feeling good. I got to leave my disability behind and act in a performance.

Another favorite experience I had was when I attended overnight camp and became good friends with Sarah Anne. People like Sarah Anne make the magic possible in front and behind the scenes. Sarah Anne taught the afternoon theatre class and we became great friends because she was quiet, kind, and also loved to read as I do. We hung out outside of ESP and saw several movies together. When I’m at ESP, I feel at peace and very relaxed, almost like I’m on vacation. I hope others know that ESP is a safe haven for anyone no matter what challenges you may face.

Sophia rock climbing with Sarah Anne at her foot and another buddy holding her other foot up

The friends I’ve made at ESP help me aspire to be more joyful. I feel at home at ESP no matter what I’m doing, and I love how accepted I am in ESP’s little community.  These past few weeks, I’ve loved working at ESP because there are many things being planned. I enjoy sitting in on the processes that make ESP run. I’ve crafted thank you’s to all of the people who support ESP and that has really filled my cup. 

I hope to see other peers of mine make an impact on people of all abilities. So many other young people have been changing the narrative of people of all abilities for the better. I would like to get involved in ESP Leads because I think it’s an awesome opportunity for people who want to learn and gain a better understanding of people of all abilities. ESP Leads is where students in elementary through high school get to interact with people of all abilities.

My dream is to one day be in customer service, which I’ve witnessed and assisted with at ESP’s excellent corporate partner lunches. After graduation, I plan to go to a vocational rehabilitation program or get a job in customer service. Thank you ESP for helping me gain new skills and for an unforgettable learning experience.

Sophia and her best friend Bronwen

P.S. Sophia tried out this cool new tool from Sticker Mule, Upscale, to edit some of her phone photos for this post. It helped make her photos look great. It’s a free resolution enhancer!