By Kaiten Baldwin
Before entering kindergarten, Savage had a hard time focusing on anyone who was talking to her. As she started school, even learning the letters of the alphabet and colors of the rainbow were a challenge.
“I remember being in preschool,” Savage said, “we were supposed to count to 100, and, then I remember thinking ‘There’s numbers after 100?’ For most people, it’s really simple, you count over again. But my brain just couldn’t even think about it.”
After many tests and doctors’ visits, she was diagnosed with a learning disability and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). After getting medication, she was able to focus better and learn at a faster rate.
Cindi Savage, Tiffany’s mother, said she would never forget the day Savage asked her if she thought she would ever graduate high school. Cindi prayed for an answer then told Savage that she will indeed graduate high school and God was going to help her.
Savage knew she would be blessed with the ability to learn if she was always honest. She knew that if she cheated, she would never learn.
After a while, Savage started noticing the strengths she had, such as creative writing, and using them to her advantage. She wrote stories and won every contest she entered.
“My mom taught me little tricks to basically learn how to learn,” Savage said.
Soon enough, she graduated high school and went on to accomplish more than she ever dreamed.
“Graduating high school seemed impossible, then I did (it),” Savage said. “Getting into college seemed impossible, then I did. Graduating college seemed even more impossible, then I did. Getting a master’s degree seemed even more impossible, and now teaching at a university is insane.”
Savage graduated from BYU-I but she never dreamed of being hired to teach here.
“When she walked across the stage, it was pretty emotional for me, as her mom,” Cindi said. “People at BYU-Idaho knew her. They knew her name. They appreciated her intelligence.”
As Savage started teaching, first as a seminary teacher, she realized she was not in the minority with her learning struggles. She noticed that in different degrees, most people struggle in school.
“One-hundred percent if I can do it, you can do it,” Savage said to one of her students.
That student has now graduated from college and served a foreign mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Savage believes her trial is an example to her students to give them hope.
“It has allowed me to help so many people,” Savage said. “I can take something that is really confusing and hard, and I can teach it in a way that the majority of kids can understand it.”
Before anything else, Savage’s favorite thing about teaching at BYU-I is helping students learn how to study the gospel. You can register for one of her religion classes next semester here.