By Joe Rose
Living and Working in Southeast Asia, Charles Altuzarra ‘06 has found success building on his “Landmark Foundation.”
Diagnosed with a language-based learning disability when he was 17-years-old, Charles Altuzarra arrived at Landmark School in August 2004. The fresh-faced junior from Paris, France, did not know it at the time, but the following two years would change his life in ways he could not imagine.
“Throughout middle school and early high school in France I found very little success,” says Altuzarra. “I felt like school was more of a punishment than a reward. There wasn’t one person who understood why I was such a bad student, until a psychiatrist diagnosed me as learning disabled.”
Charles knew very little about why he needed to go to Landmark. He was also unaware of what being “dyslexic” or “learning disabled” meant. The confusion and culture shock caused a few bumps in the road when he started his Landmark journey, but ultimately he settled in.
A Rebel Buys In
“I started 11th grade at Landmark School with a rebellious attitude,” he recalls. “There were so many rules! But in the 12th grade, I finally defined why Landmark School was necessary for me. I bought into my education and reached high levels of success in the Prep Program.”
As he reflects, Charles praises various elements of the Landmark community, from the student life department to the diverse extra-curricular activities he joined. But there is a special place he reserves for the mentors he discovered inside the classroom.
“The teachers at Landmark helped me to recognize my academic weaknesses and taught me to work with them,” he recollects. “To this day I still remember the skills Derek Pierce taught me in my Prep writing classes. They will remain engraved in my memory forever. They helped to set the foundation for the rest of my life.”
Learning Disability Provides Motivation
Charles takes these skills to his job with the French National Centre for Scientific Research in Singapore. He is also once again using his “Landmark Foundation” inside the classroom.
“I am currently in the last year of my doctoral program in quantum optics and materials science at Nanyang Technological University here in Singapore,” he says proudly. “I am incredibly passionate about what I do and I am grateful for having been given the tools to learn and build projects based on my own knowledge.”
His knowledge and skills were fully on display in Osaka, Japan, where Charles was awarded the 2015 Outstanding Student Oral Presentation at the Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers Asian CORE Student Meeting.
“Prior to my time at Landmark, I frequently used the fact that I was learning disabled as an excuse for failing. Today, I use my learning disability as motivation for being successful.”
(From The Lantern Summer 2016)
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