When she stood at the inauguration podium Wednesday and read her poem "The Hill We Climb," 22-year-old Amanda Gorman inspired the whole world.
But her performance held special meaning for the children — and their parents — who struggle with the same learning and speech challenges Gorman had to overcome to reach that stage.
Gorman, a recent graduate of Harvard University, and her twin sister were born prematurely, and according to a 2018 interview with Understood, Gorman was diagnosed with an auditory processing disorder in kindergarten and has struggled with speech articulation throughout her life.
In an interview with CNN, Gorman noted she was unable to pronounce the letter R sound until 2 or 3 years ago, "and even to this day sometimes I struggle with it, which is difficult when you have a poem in which you say 'rise' like five times."
Despite those challenges, in 2018, Gorman told TODAY's Jenna Bush Hager she fell in love with words and poetry when she was in third grade. She used writing, she has said, to "get my voice on the page," and practicing and reciting her poetry became its own form of speech pathology for her. Gorman was named the first U.S. Youth Poet Laureate in 2017.
Though public speaking didn't come naturally to Gorman, she was determined to express herself, she told Jenna. "The voice I'm hearing aloud can't pronounce Rs, can't pronounce 'sh.' It kind of sounds a bit garbled.
"But I hear this strong, self-assured voice when I am reading this simple text, and what that told me is the power of your inner voice over that which people might hear with their ears," she said.
"The only thing that can impede me is myself."
Gorman, who was raised with her sister by single mother and teacher Joan Wicks in Los Angeles, California, credits her mom for her success. She has now pledged to run for president herself in 2036, a dream she alluded to in her inauguration poem.
She already has something in common with President Joe Biden, who has also struggled with public speaking because of a stutter he has had since childhood.
"Poetry has always been the thread that is weaving throughout kind of the fabric of American and global history," she told Jenna.