She vividly recalls walking back and forth from the chalkboard throughout her classes while at primary school to be able to copy her notes.
Chandis Hamilton is a Jamaican by birth who grew up in the rural community of Nonsuch, Portland. Her journey up to this point, however, has not been easy. Chandis has had her fair share of challenges, disappointments, and setbacks since childhood. To succeed, she had to study twice as hard and memorize so much more, as she was determined not to allow her visual impairment to hold her back. She also improvised every step of the way and seized every opportunity to advocate for herself and others.
She credits her achievements to her parents, her incredible support system, and her cheerleaders. They believed in her when no one else did and did everything they could to get all the resources and help she needed to succeed. Chandis attended Port Antonio High School, but still struggle to keep pace with her peers. However, with help from her classmates and countless hours of her mom reading her notes aloud, Chandis was placed third in 8th grade and 2nd in the first semester of 9th grade.
In pursuit of better opportunities and resources, she migrated to the United States in April 2017 and enrolled at the Butler College Preparatory School in Chicago and later the Curie Metropolitan High School in September 2018. At Curie, she learned to use braille for the first time and was introduced to screen reading software and other technologies to facilitate independent work. This marked the beginning of a new world for Chandis; for the first time, she could see the world through ‘new lenses.’ Now more than ever, she is motivated to prove her naysayers wrong. With nothing standing in her way, Chandis became a freshman mentor at the beginning of her junior year and a member of the Math Honors Society that same year. In sophomore year, she became a member of the National Honors Society, with a GPA of over 3.5, and later graduated in 2021 with honors, having received a 4.5 GPA.
Her hard work paid off, having been accepted into 10 out of 12 colleges and universities accepting the offer made by Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia, she commenced her studies leading to a degree in Psychology, in September 2021. She is also a scholarship recipient from the Winterset Bank and Spelman College. Attending Spelman College is a dream come true. Chandis yearned to be a part of a legacy and walk the paths other powerful black women have walked.
Chandis wants to give back to her hometown after her studies by opening a mental health clinic in Portland and starting a non-profit organization to help persons with visual impairment achieve their goals. Chandis is passionate about advocacy and stresses the importance of advocating for oneself and believing in oneself.
“Go after what you want. There will be naysayers; know within yourself that what they say is their opinion. Have a growth mindset and be determined. Be your biggest motivator.”
Receiving financial assistance from Adopt A Destiny would mean a lot to Chandis, allowing her to make her mark at Spelman and become the change she wants to see.
So far, Chandis has defied the odds in her unique way and completed her first semester at Spelman College. Amidst the challenges faced, she feels honored to be the first student with severe visual impairment to attend Spelman and hopes that next semester, she will be provided with all the resources and tools needed to adjust to lead an everyday college life.
Besides being a successful student, she is a talented singer and visionary. At Curie High School, Chandis was a member of the Adidas Sound Lab and the WE club (community service). She also sang the national anthem at the Bull’s game. It doesn’t stop there, she is currently a member of the Gospel Choir and Praise Team at Spelman, and after College, she hopes to attend medical school and pursue studies in the field of Child Psychiatry.