Middle schooler overcomes diversity

caines | 1/24/2013, 4:30 a.m.

Albinism and visual impairment won't stop Angel from her dreams

In elementary school, many kids are affected by bullying and academic pressure. Then, when middle school comes around the issues seem to increase with the addition of peer pressure and sometimes low self-esteem. Angel Wallace, 14, an eighth grader, has dealt with the common problems of most children while in elementary and middle school, but even moreso because she is albino. Regardless of her differences, Angel does not let the challenges of albinism or visual impairment stop her from being confident and excelling in academics and in music. Yet she will admit that she has endured some tough times. My elementary school years werent exactly the best years of my life, Angel said. But now I feel better and confident about being albino. According to Angel, she was stared at in class, her peers would say mean things and some people would run away from her, while in elementary school. Now in middle school, Angel has experienced less problems. Her mom believes that the challenges have decreased because students have more knowledge of what albinism is and because Angel now attends a school that is more accepting of her than those that are in her neighborhood. I had to take her out of the all-Black school, Karen Wallace, Angel's mother, said. There were more ignorant stares and more pick-ats than what you would experience in the other communities. She explained that although it is common for Angel to be stared at, in Black communities people would stare and then stare again. Some would go even further and make fun of Angel. But through it all, both Angel and Karen have remained positive and has been a support system for each other. Angel said that it is her mom and her passion for music that has kept her motivated and encouraged.

Angels silver lining

Also Angel receives support and encouragement from organizations like the National Organization for Albinism and Hypo-pigmentation and the Miami Light House for the blind and visually impaired. I tell Angel that shes my hero because she keeps me strong and focused, Karen said. She shows me how to push and persevere through all of my trials because she does. Angel is known around Miami Lakes Middle School for her passion and dedication as a tenor saxophonist. She started playing the saxophone in the sixth grade and mastered it that very same year, according to Karen. She has even received first and second place ratings in county-wide and state-wide music competitions. In addition, because of her commitment and leadership skills Angel has served as drum major of her school band during her seventh grade year and now she serves as band captain. As a band member, some of Angels favorite moments were performing in Christmas festivals, veterans parades, spring concerts and competitions. Angel said she enjoys being in band because it makes her feel important. She even sets goals on how she will grow as a musician each year. After middle school and high school, Angel plans on going to college to study Oncology and Music. You can do just about anything that you set your mind to, Angel said. You can be anything, just like I have for the past three years. By Malika A. Wright mwright@miamitimesonline.com