Overcoming obstacles, inspiring young minds


NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Jacquelyn Brown has known she was different since she was a little girl. By age seven, she was diagnosed with severe dyslexia

"At that time I still couldn't read or write. In fact, I didn't learn how to do that until about 10," Brown said.

She was told she'd amount to little vocationally, but she wanted to know why.

"My mom was like, well you know scientists are going to have to figure that out honey. And I was like, then I'm going to be one of those scientists to figure it out," explained Brown.

And that's exactly what she did.

"By college, I graduated in three years with two majors and a minor," Brown said.

Now with a PhD in neuroscience, Jacquelyn works in a lab at Vanderbilt University studying what causes mental illness at the cellular level.

"I couldn't let other people dictate what my future was going to be," she said.

The scientist wants to inspire other young girls to overcome their difficulties, like  Ashley Maloen. Maloen studies hard, but her cystic fibrosis has her in the hospital often. She also has dyslexia.

"My B's and my D's I flip around a lot," Maloen said.

The honors student tries to keep up with her peers, but it's not easy. Brown says the first success secret is to believe in yourself.

"Don't listen to the people that set limits on you. You're the best judge of your own potential," Brown added.

Next, surround yourself with people who support you and have a game plan.

"You need to have a clear plan of where you're going to go and how you're going to get there," Brown said.

Finally, don't give up.

"You really have to be 100-percent driven," she said.

Brown credits finally learning how to read to her mom. Her mom used to read her mystery novels as a little girl and she'd stop at the best parts and tell her it was time for bed. Brown says it's her need to know "who done it?" that kept her focused on learning to read.