At the age of 5, after surgery for a pediatric brain tumor, Patricia Walsh lost most of her sight. By 14 she was almost completely blind. An excellent student, she fell from the top of her class to “struggling to read ‘See Jane run’ in Braille.”
Hopelessness and despair set in. But Walsh rallied. At her new high school, she joined the track team and won a gold medal in the 100-meter sprint. Then in college at Oregon State University, she met a blind physics professor who was working on an innovative science, math and engineering curriculum for the visually impaired, and he offered her a job in tech support. After saying yes, she hurried home so her roommate could teach her how to use email. “I’m a huge believer in the fake-it-until-you-make-it principle,” she writes.
Two years later she had made it and enrolled in the computer science program at Oregon State. After graduation, she landed a job at Microsoft and later launched her own motivational speaking company, appropriately named Blind Ambition, for which she now travels the country. More than anything, Walsh wants to be an example to others by proving that her disability doesn’t deter or restrict her from taking on professional or physical challenges. An avid marathon runner who has completed two Ironman competitions, she’s also been the fastest member of the U.S. paratriathlon team for three years.
“I’d rather live my life as a person who failed gracefully than as a person who never made the attempt,” she writes. In Blind Ambition, Walsh exudes humility while telling her story, which includes plenty of tips and advice on how to set goals and overcome obstacles.
by Patricia Walsh