Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

“She will never make it in college…”

Written by: on September 3, 2022

I have a half written book, I titled “Fighting to Learn”. I started writing it in high school as I struggled to fit in the system and to learn the way I was expected to. As a student with an IEP (Individual Education Plan) I was given accommodations that were meant to help me be successful and some of them may have been helpful. The problem was that this IEP came with another label… dyslexia. I was labeled dyslexic and placed under the umbrella of special education. Everything I did in school felt like a fight, internally and externally. In the midst of the fighting there was one thing that I loved; I loved to write, anything from songs, poems, stories, sermons, journal entries, even essays. The problem often was if I hand wrote them you wouldn’t be able to read it between the spelling errors and the handwriting. So, I learned to type and to dictate before it was cool and I listened to audio books before Audible existed.

My labels and IEP meant that there were frequent meetings with teachers, administrators, my parents, and myself. In one such meeting my senior year of high school, the principal sat across from my mother and I and said, “She will never make it in college… she won’t be able to keep up with the demand, she won’t be able to do all the reading and writing.” A pit in my stomach grew as the tears welled up in my eyes, I had big dreams and she was crushing them. I had a choice believe her words and her understanding of my abilities or…

Challenge Accepted! I applied to 4 colleges, plus Yale for fun, never expecting to actually attend there, my SAT wasn’t high enough (slow reader problems). I received acceptance letters to all 4 schools! (Yale was a no.) I was ready to take on the challenge, to prove her wrong and to prove to myself I could do it! I wasn’t going to be defined by what I couldn’t do the way others did, I was going to perfect my way.

I learned early on that I wouldn’t be able to read the whole book, I wouldn’t be able to write lots of notes fast enough in class, I would have to find skills to compensate for my differences. It would be a fight at times.

Spoiler alert, I made it through undergrad with a double major in political science and sociology and a minor in religion, while graduating cum laude!

That principal was wrong, I could do it! Better yet, I did it again, graduating with a Master of Divinity in 3 years while working full time and raising a family.

Then something I never thought would happen… I was accepted into a doctoral program which has me writing this blog today while reading and writing more than I ever thought I could. The fight has become less about the skills and more about the internal battle of believing what others say vs. proving to myself that I am capable, even if I don’t read the whole book and words disappear off the pages, I can be a reader and a writer!

One day I might even finish writing that book I started in high school, I think the ending will be pretty awesome.


About the Author


Sara Taylor Lattimore

Sara is adopted, a wife of 17 years, a mother to 2 amazing children who give her opportunities to be a cheerleader, dress up like a princess, play soccer in the mud, and go on amazing adventures. With a Bachelors in political science and sociology, Sara worked for Child Protective Services as a legal caseworker before following a call into full-time ministry in 2008. During her time in full-time ministry Sara has served in medium to large size local congregations, as well as camp ministry. Sara has a passion for serving others, writing, and speaking. In 2016 Sara worked on a joint publication as a Curriculum Writer. Sara wrote the Intergenerational/Family & Day Camp Resources in “Beyond Belief” for InsideOut Christian Resources for Outdoor Ministry- Published by Chalice Press- Release Date 2018. Sara is looking forward to writing her own book next. Sara completed her MDiv from Iliff School of Theology in 2019 and is currently working on her Doctorate in Leadership and Global Perspectives from Portland Seminary. Sara currently serves as Lead Pastor of a local church in Southwestern Montana. She has previously served in ministry positions leading congregations in engaging globally in healthy mission and outreach partnerships, living life missionally, building innovative programs, and building relationships as the Director of Missions and Outreach, College Ministry Coordinator, Family and Children’s Ministry Director, Director of Christian Education, and Camp Program Director. She is an innovator and visionary who looks to find empowering and dignity restoring ways of building communities of belonging, while listening and partnering with others to find ways to also address the needs of the communities she is planted in. Beyond her work, Sara dreams of growing her family through adoption, kayaking with Orcas, going on pilgrimage on the Camino De Santiago in Spain, traveling in an RV across North America, and traveling internationally.

18 responses to ““She will never make it in college…””

  1. mm David Beavis says:

    Hey Sara,

    This is incredibly inspirational! It was interesting how you brought your situation from simply being an external “skill-set” problem, to actually being an internal dilemma of choosing to believe in yourself rather than the words that were spoken over you. Your story reminds me of Malcolm Gladwell’s book “David and Goliath.” In this book, Gladwell highlights how often times set-backs become set-ups for success through the grit and skill-set compensation of those experiencing the set-back. He argues in the book that though we see the Goliaths of our world as the ones with the advantage, in actuality, it is the seemingly disadvantaged, under-dog that has the greater advantage. You have demonstrated in your story that you, Sara, are not someone who allows set-backs to define you, but rather set you up for greater things. Keep up the good work Sara. You are just getting started!

  2. mm Becca Hald says:

    Wow Sara, so encouraging. I know how hard it is to not let that inner voice define you. My favorite Bible verse, my life verse, is Philippians 3:18, “I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” You exemplify this verse. I am sure the skills and study habits you have developed will serve you well in this program.

  3. mm Laura Fleetwood says:

    I love how you focused on finding a learning style that worked with your strengths. You are a wonderful example of how perseverance and tenacity can overcome so many obstacles. I honor and appreciate you – so glad we are in the same cohort!

  4. Tonette Kellett says:

    I loved your story. I teach many dyslexic students on the Indian reservation, and over the years I have found that they tend to be very creative and talented. Fitting in to today’s K-12 academic world has been the problem for them because of their difficulty reading and writing. I’m so proud of you and your accomplishments, and your tenacity to overcome obstacles that have stood in your way. You have an encouraging testimony to share, and your story isn’t nearly over yet!

    • Tonette,

      Thank you for your kindness and encouragement. Learning differently is a challenge with in a system that is not equipped or designed to handle difference, and seeks uniformity. Yet it in the midst of difference is forged strength and resiliency.

  5. Jenny Steinbrenner Hale says:

    Sara, I loved reading your post! I agree, that book you finish is going to have an awesome ending. Thanks for sharing your story and inspiring us to believe in ourselves and each other. Words are powerful. It’s disappointing that a principal would use her words to discourage a student. It is a good reminder of the potential we all hold to use words to tear down or build up, including the words we tell ourselves.

    I’m excited to learn and journey alongside you this year and into the future!

  6. Alana Hayes says:


    You are truly inspirational. I didn’t know this about you, but even more you are truly a guide of “You can do hard things”. I love how you could have gone either way emotionally after hearing those words from your teacher but you chose to push forward and FIGHT.

    You are a fighter, a winner, a doctorate student, and soon an author. I am proud of you and for you.

  7. mm Greg McMullen says:

    Love it! Thank you for sharing.

  8. Kristy Newport says:

    Hello Sara,
    Thank you for sharing your journey in Fighting to Learn. What a story of perseverance! Today, in Cape Town, Dr. Clark gave a lecture on Map Making. There are some key points that he made which may be applicable to the blog you have posted. Below are some of my notes (abbreviated) from the lecture today. I am curious which maps you may have disregarded (those that have not aided you well in your education) and possibly what maps you created, bringing you success?

    He is our North Star/The Way, Truth, Life
    Jesus is the Story that determines all other stories.
    The importance of theology-it is woven into our work. We need accurate maps-this is Jesus

    Bad Maps-
    1) Bad maps lead people into the worst things
    2) Friends will say that maps won’t work.
    3) Geographers- they use over lay maps. These maps can help make sense of economics, use of space
    a. You can suddenly see things- where are the roads?
    b. the temptation is to synthesize the maps- don’t do this! Just see them as overlays
    c. Example- pilots in airplanes- what is important: airports accessibility to fuel-where is the map for this?

    Key Maps-
    4) Who am I? and Where am I with God?
    a. Start with this unapologetically
    b. Neutral observer- be honest with who we are
    and where we are.
    5) What is ok for me to reach for? Growth
    a. Jesus maximizes the soil that we are in
    b. Do not underestimate the soil that you are in
    c. Reach for things that Jesus has for me

    You are a successful student! I am interested in learning about your maps, especially the ones that brought you success.
    Kristy Newport

    • Kristy,

      thank you for your insight and curiosity. I would say I have often had to go back to the reminder of where my identity is found. It is found not in what I do but in who God created me to be. This is a hard truth to retain sometimes. It is easy to get distracted by everything else the world throws at us, but coming back to this simple reminder has been a good grounding point for me.

  9. mm Shonell Dillon says:

    Sara, I am so glad you chose to let the world know that “You Could” instead of accepting no. I was given a scripture when I became sick that stated that I should believe the report of the Lord. The report of the Lord said that you are fearfully and wonderfully made and that no matter what man has to say you are a victor and not a victim.

    • Shonell,

      I am so grateful for your encouragement and support. I am glad too, that along the way I have not taken no for an answer and now in my adulthood I am having to remember those moments and apply what I have learned to the no’s I face now. We all can take our past and keep building and keep growing through new seasons.

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