“Don’t accept anyone’s verdict that you are lazy, stupid, or retarded. You may very well be smarter than most other children your age.”

It wasn’t long before a young Nelson Rockefeller knew he would have to work twice as hard as his peers in order to succeed-- and succeed he did, becoming the Vice President of the United States under the administration of Gerald Ford. As early as the third grade, Rockefeller was struggling with reading and writing and regularly scored in the bottom third of his class. There were no special instructors, teaching methods, or tutoring options available to Rockefeller and other dyslexics, so Rockefeller was forced to learn creatively in a way that worked for him. After a particularly poor 9th grade year, Rockefeller knew he would have to work even harder if he wanted to go to college. He fought “tooth and nail” for the grades which would get him into Dartmouth College. Once there, Rockefeller established a routine of waking up at 5am to study every day-- a routine which his college roommate often mocked him for.

During both his term as Vice President of the United States and later positions, Rockefeller spoke out about dyslexia. He claimed that dyslexia helped him develop invaluable administrative skills. In 1975, Rockefeller delivered a speech on the PBS special “The Puzzle Children”. In this speech, where he recounts his own struggles with dyslexia, he offered inspiration and advice to other dyslexic “puzzle children”.

Read Nelson Rockefeller’s entire speech on “The Puzzle Children” here.