Graduating senior Angelica Addison balances being an avid visual artist, active member and leader in numerous organizations both on and off campus amongst many other endeavors. Also an alumni of the East Bay Consortium, Addison will begin graduate school at Mills College to study Infant Mental Health next school year — but one of her most notable achievements is that she manages to do all this in spite of being autistic.
According to Addison, her autism affects her when she is trying to process or understand something. She finds that she must often ask more questions, and requires more time and repetition to learn something. Addison also struggles with hyperactivity, speaking, and social anxiety; but she has found that Mills has helped to lessen her anxiety.
“Being here, my social skills have improved compared to my previous years when I used to have a lot of social anxiety or I had struggles interacting with other kids, so socializing has always been a battle for me,” Addison said.
In addition to easing her social anxiety, Mills has also allowed Addison to explore other passions.
“This campus also helped me get back into writing poetry, because I hadn’t written poetry since high school,” Addison said.
Addison was raised by a single mother who always looked for community resources for Addison’s autism. She has previously had a speech therapist and other accommodations, and has learned different ways to cope, such as reading, exercising, and maintaining a healthy diet with the proper nutrients. Addison has also found that visual art, such as painting and draw- ing, helps her to cope with her autism and the anxiety or other symptoms.
“I love painting and drawing because they are both great coping mechanisms,” Addison said. “They give me flow and catharsis and they inspire me to keep moving on.”
Addison has many fond memories of her time at Mills, including a movie night her sophomore year, a course she took about Greek mythology, and being able to take part in the inauguration of President DeCoudreaux, which Addison said was an honor to be a part of.
Addison will be graduating with a degree in Psychology and plans to be a clinical child psychologist so that she can assist at-risk youth with disabilities.
“My background has driven me to help other vulnerable youths who need outreach,” Addison said.