Extra Effort: La Crosse Aquinas senior overcomes learning disability to excel in academics

Amanda Eggen is the Aquinas High School winner of the La Crosse Tribune Extra Effort Award.

Erik Daily, La Crosse Tribune

Doing well on all the homework and tests thrown at students these days can be hard enough without your own body tripping you up.

For Aquinas senior Amanda Eggen, she also had to learn how to overcome a learning disability that made her English and mathematics classes much more difficult. She had to teach herself the coping skills and techniques needed to excel in those subjects as well as lean on the support and encouragement of her parents and teachers.

Today, Eggen enjoys her math and English classes much more than she used to and has turned those subjects around. Because of all her hard work and dedication, she is this year’s La Crosse Tribune Extra Effort Award winner for Aquinas High School.

“She’s gained the skills of advocating for herself,” Aquinas English teacher Amy Lawrynk said. “That helped her move along from there.”

Eggen was diagnosed as having attention deficit disorder when she was in the seventh grade. Even before then, her mom Jane Eggen thought she might be struggling as homework came slower to Amanda as did reading.

“It was just very hard to concentrate,” Amanda said. “If there was a lot of noise going on around me, I had difficulties.”

She was also self-conscious of her abilities and said she would start to rush if she saw other students finishing their tests or school work before her. In order to eliminate distractions, she had to go to a different room where she could take the exam by herself.

Reading was difficult, Eggen said. It was hard for her to explain, but she said things just came slower to her and it took her longer to understand what a story or passage was trying to say.

As a result, she started to dread going to her English and math classes. But things started to turn around in high school after she transferred to Aquinas from Logan Middle School.

Having the diagnosis helped Eggen understand what was going on and what she needed to do in order to succeed. Without the distractions of classmates, she didn’t rush her tests anymore.

She also encountered Lawrynk as a teacher and learned to reach out and ask questions when she needed. The teachers also challenged her and helped her learn better study habits and ways to tackle her homework.

The flipped class structure also helped as she was able to take a chapter home to read the night before and then had time to discuss and process the material the next day in class. English is now one of her favorite subjects, Eggen said, and she is a much better reader now.

Her grades have improved markedly and she made the honor roll last year and hopes to hit the high honor roll this year. She said she made the honor roll a big goal last year and was excited to have achieved what she set out to do.

“I like that I’m getting these subjects now,” she said. “I’m much more confident with my grades and my work ethic and studying, too.”

Eggen hopes to attend the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh after graduation. She said she is interested in business but doesn’t know exactly what she plans to study yet.

Lawrynk said she knows that Eggen will go far in college and as an adult. She never blamed her condition for her troubles, Lawrynk said. Instead, she was always positive, upbeat and had a can-do attitude.

“She never made excuses,” Lawrynk said. “She took responsibility and initiative for herself.”

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Nathan Hansen has been the Education Reporter for the Tribune since 2014. Prior to that, he covered education, agriculture and business topics for the Winona Daily News. He is always on the lookout for news tips and can be contacted at 608-791-8234.

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