I recently had a chance to chat with Yvette Blaess, a lovely young woman who is a model and actress and recent finalist in the Miss World America Pageant. She has also been an advocate for dyslexia and ADD and her personal story is one of gutsiness, perserverance, and reslience.

Yvette told me that her ethnic background is Cuban, Puerto Rican, Italian, and French. She had a challenging early history because her biological father left her mother before she was born and her mother had to juggle working full-time in the military in addition to raising 2 children.

Yvette and her sister faced more upheaval when her mother was agonizing over whether to take a promotion in the Army that required more schooling or pass on the opportunity. She decided it was important to pursue a promotion to help her family, but that meant Yvette and her sister had to be in foster care for a few months. Things improved when Yvette’s mother remarried, but because her new dad was also in the service overseas as a Green Beret and Yvette’s mom also moved quite a bit with her job, it meant Yvette didn’t have much consistency in her education for dyslexia.

Although Yvette was on IEP, the recommendations and recognition of dyslexia varied widely between states and she and her mother found they often needed to start from scratch when starting in a new school. Active duty families required to move frequently definitely deserve to have more help coordinating their children’s education.

In her twenties, determined to improve her reading by teaching herself, she brute forced herself through challenging words. Every word that she came to that she didn’t know, she looked up the definition.

Today Yvette works in marketing where she enjoys being able to create visually and use her strengths.

She is engaged in many good causes including helping dyslexic kids, serving as honorary board member of the Dyslexia Foundation, fighting bullying in the schools, and improving the access to appropriate education for children of active duty families and those in foster care.