College freshman. Scholarship recipient. Business owner.
Freshman financial accounting major Tyler Bryant from Greenville has accomplished quite the trifecta in 18 years. But his current success hasn’t come without a lot of hard work, faith, and determination.
When Bryant was in first grade he was told he would be considered a success if he could read at a sixth-grade level by the time he graduated high school. His eyes wouldn’t focus together as he attempted to read across a page, causing words to split in incorrect places or causing double vision, making reading impossible. He succeeded at math because it was mainly vertical and his eyes could focus up and down.
His mom, who was a nurse at the time, did a lot of research and found a condition that sounded exactly like what he was experiencing. He went to an eye doctor, who referred him to a specialist who determined he suffered from Convergence Insufficiency and Processing Disorder.
With aggressive vision therapy, hard work, perseverance, and his faith he was able to retrain his eyes and brain to work together and focus. He started reading at the appropriate grade level in eighth grade.
“The disorder has caused a lot of heartache and stress, but enduring through it I would not be where I am today. I have confidence that I can do anything I put my mind to. Ever since I was a kid I was taught to dream big and that the sky is the limit,” he said.
“When you look at me you don’t see it (my disability), and it really doesn’t affect me all the time, but it comes up when I have to focus on a test, or if I have worked all day and have to do homework. I really have to focus hard because if I space out for one second the stress and exhaustion causes double vision and things look all crazy. My eyes get exhausted and I just have to take a break.”
To help take some of the stress off of classes and tests, Bryant gets time and a half for all of his tests in a private room at the Student Access and Accommodation Services office, as well as the audio format on tests and readings for his classes.
To his surprise, this fall Bryant received notice that he was the recipient of the Student Access and Accommodation Services Educational Enhancement Scholarship.
“One of my main goals is to graduate debt-free so I was really excited and astounded to learn that I had received the scholarship. I pride myself in being very independent, but it was exciting to be recognized and supported by these generous anonymous donors,” he said.
“I have been able to accomplish things that were thought to be impossible for someone with my disability,” he added.
One milestone is owning his own business, Candles and Nothing More. He has invested 100 percent of the profits in his education. As a senior in high school, he took an entrepreneurial class called Bond County CEO. In this class, students had to start their own business. Christmas was approaching, the time of year people typically buy a lot of candles.
“I was not passionate about candles, but I was passionate about finding a way to pay for college and setting myself up financially in life,” Bryant. “I did what my generation does and started Googling how to make candles, bought supplies, started making them and the rest is history.”
He sells candles wholesale to three different stores in the Greenville area, but most sales are person-to-person or through his Facebook page, Candles and Nothing More. He started with 10 scents of the 16-ounce candles and now offers 17 scents as well as an unscented variety. They vary from cinnamon bun to citronella. He also offers 16 scents in the candle melts. One candle is $12 or three candles for $30, and candle melts are one for $3 or four for $10.
Upon graduation, Bryant plans to pursue his master’s degree in professional accountancy.