Updated Intro

Updated Intro

Hello! My name is Arielle and I am from Atlanta, Georgia.  Currently, I am 20 years old (only for a few days) and will be a senior at Emory University (Ebola school).  I am currently studying Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology (NBB) major (I may pick up a French minor). I work as a research assistant exploring molecular components of schizophrenia in the Department of Cell Biology at Emory University School of Medicine (too specific to explain here).   I am also a driver in training (which will make more sense in the later paragraphs). Once I graduate from Emory, I want to obtain a license (masters) in genetic counseling.  I am a bit of a daredevil! I love activities such as swimming, whitewater rafting, and zip lining.  I also like binge-watching on Netflix and hanging out with my friends and family.  I hope one day, that I will be able to be a certified scuba diver (when I have free time).

There is one thing that makes me stand out compared to a majority of my peers that attend Emory University; I have oculocutaneous albinism (medical name for albinism or OCA works too).  Albinism (the politically correct term compared to the colloquial term albino), is a genetic condition that causes lack of pigment in the hair, skin, and eyes (i.e. I look Swedish).  I am a natural platinum blond and I am very proud of it!  Although people may be familiar with lack of pigment associated with albinism, many people fail to realize that absence of pigment causes vision loss.  Pigment is used to develop the eyes prenatally, when you have little to no pigment it causes underdeveloped eyes.

Most people with albinism are visually impaired.  This does not mean we are blind.  As visual acuity decreases, lack of detail decreases as well.  Of course how people see with vision loss see varies from person to person.  Some people may have nystagmus (rapid uncontrollable eye movement), strabismus (lazy eye), or photophobia (light sensitivity), along with reduced visual acuity.  I’m very lucky and have all three, but my nystagmus and strabismus are almost unnoticeable.  For example, I can look at a stop sign and identify the colors and possibly the shape and letter, but I cannot read the word “stop”.  Although my visual acuity is around 20/200, I think I am able to do as much (or even more) than my sighted peers.

I know this is a lot of information to take. We’re all curious about different things at some point in our lives.  I believe my blog is a safe haven to ask as many questions to your heart’s content!

Hope to hear from you all soon!



  1. pearls2017 September 21, 2017 at 5:09 pm - Reply

    Hi I am a high school student in North Carolina & your blog caught my attention! When I first began to read your intro, I realized that you attend UGA. It’s actually kind of ironic because that is one of the colleges that I plan to apply to. We share the same love for activities such as zip-lining and whitewater rafting. I must say I love how in depth your intro is! It really gave me an insight into your life. Thank you for sharing!

  2. pearls2017 September 21, 2017 at 5:11 pm - Reply

    Hey! My name is Gabriel and I want to first off say congratulations on graduating from Emory University! I go to Central Academy of Technology and Arts in North Carolina. It’s so awesome that you can speak French, I would like to learn but I know it would be difficult since I also speak Spanish. My favorite subject truly language classes, since it’s amazing to speak multiple languages. I think that it’s pretty cool that I also love whitewater rafting and swimming, but I never went ziplining even though I’m afraid of heights. I would still love to go sometime. I typically listen to latino music on my mostly, but I literally can listen to any type even if it’s a different language. I have one question about Albinism does any symptoms hold you back? Because honestly sometimes my absent seizures can hold me back especially from driving! Other than that I feel like it’s manageable for me!

    • Arielle September 21, 2017 at 8:24 pm - Reply

      As I said in my intro, I am visually impaired so I do have to consider some things, however I do not let my own limitations hold me back per se. This really explains why I have been able to get so far in life. At the same time I have to be logical about certain situations i.e. I don’t think I will be a fighter pilot in the near future. I wouldn’t consider my vision limiting in anyway, but I would say it allows me to be more creative and quick on my feet. In terms of driving, I legally can drive (look for bioptic driving in this blog), however I have determined that if I don’t feel comfortable than I would continue for the licensure. Right now driving is more difficult to do because I would have to return home to Atlanta every weekend and spend 4 hours taking driving lessons. It really is just not the right time to take that on while I’m a grad student at UGA, a TA, and a private tutor. To get around the driving issue…. I live on campus strategically placed on a route that stops at my apartment and my department’s building. Another grad student (who is not disabled told me about this and I decided to take her advice… t takes 20 minutes, but it’s better than walking an hour to get there. Next year, I may consider moving closer to downtown Athens because it’s only a 5 minute walk to Gilbert Hall (ROML’s building). The commute is also a downside because the bus is too long and I feel that I waste almost an hour going back and forth. On the weekends it is worse. It runs only once an hour and goes throughout the whole campus. Sometimes I use uber or ask for rides from friends. There’s a lot of ways to get around the “living without a car”. This also means, I may have to look into apartments next spring.
      Now your comment on Romance languages: you technically should be able to pick up another Romance language very quickly because you know one already. For example, I can understand some Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese. I will have to pick up another Romance language next semester (for research), I will probably do Portuguese because I am doing research comparing French and Portuguese nasal vowels. :)

    • Arielle September 21, 2017 at 8:25 pm - Reply

      You’re welcome! If you ever decide to visit Athens (while I’m still a student at UGA), let me know. I would be more than happy to show you around. :)

  3. Jennifer March 20, 2018 at 12:39 am - Reply

    Hi. My name is Jennifer, and I really enjoyed reading your blog. I live in Florida and I graduated from UNF in 2011 with a Bachelors degree in elementary education. I was very excited to start teaching, but once I started, I quickly realized it was not for me. I’m autistic, and too much noise bothers me. I am also sensitive to touch, and the classroom noise and children touching me was causing problems with my autism. Luckily, I did finally find a job that I can do and am good at… I work at a day program for adults with differences. I understand what the individuals I work with are going through, because I have some of the same struggles. I am also involved with Special Olympics and play 5 sports including bowling! I have also recently joined a bowling league with two of my Special Olympics friends. And making friends has always been difficult for me, so Special Olympics has been a big help. Our company had an inservice training and Rick did a presentation which is how I found out about the Pearls project. I hope you don’t mind if I follow your blog. That’s one thing I love about Social Media. I can “talk” without looking at the person. It is very hard for me to have a conversation face to face, but give me a place to type, and I can go on and on… which is what I am doing now! Anyway, it’s been nice reading your blog and learning about you, and I hope that we can keep in touch.

    • Arielle March 28, 2018 at 6:51 pm - Reply

      Hi Jennifer. Nice to meet you! Of course, you can follow my blog! I am glad you had the chance to meet Rick in person and learn about the PEARLS project. I also like bowling, but I am not so good at it. I apologize for the late response. I have been pretty busy recently. Hope to hear from you soon! -Arielle

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