Miss South Dakota International 2020

Alexandra Bechtel

Of all the lessons I have learned, perhaps the most valuable one is this: that our most celebrated accomplishments only occur when we overcome life's most difficult circumstances. 

Much of this is related to my early life struggles with learning disorders. I was diagnosed with dyslexia and ADHD in first grade. Due to a lack of awareness by educators and a lack of resources to support coping with these disorders, I was placed in remedial classes and programs that ultimately caused me to grow up feeling deeply inadequate and unintelligent. I later realized that what I went through is much more common than it should be. 


Many people in similar situations are never given the opportunity to discover their unique value. Instead, many of them will drop out of school never realizing that their disorder gives them many unique skills and abilities. Students with learning disorders are known to face early feelings of anger, frustration, sadness, and shame. Over time, this takes on psychological difficulties like depression, anxiety and most commonly, juvenile delinquency.


Taking these situations into account, I knew that I wanted to create a new inspiring narrative for the nearly 30% of people facing learning difficulties daily. That is why I created my platform, Hidden Advantages: a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to helping students with learning disorders become strong future leaders. We have spread our mission across the state by speaking at and hosting various conferences, supporting the first ever statewide dyslexia specific legislation, and promoting results driven education. This is just the beginning of our mission. We are working to encourage all people with learning difficulties globally to embrace their hardships and celebrate their hidden advantages.

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