“I am a 19-year-old cancer survivor; there is nothing that I can’t do!”
“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along (Eleanor Roosevelt).”‘ What should have been a joyous and celebratory point in my life, a month after my high school graduation and my sister’s wedding, and two days after I got a new job, I was diagnosed with leukemia. The pause button had been hit on my life. This leukemia would impact every facet of my existence, but it would especially impact my schooling and my determination.
A determination to seize my goals has been inherent from day one. I started school at just four years old, a year earlier than most children. It was not a surprise I took this determination a step further when the opportunity came to me my sophomore year to transfer to the College of Southern Nevada High School. Making this decision would allow me to get a jump start on my college career by earning dual credit for high school and college. Just a few months after I turned 17, I was supposed to take my impressive 52 college credits, my Honors diploma, and my gung-ho spirit off to college and rock the collegiate world! Instead, my life consisted of hospital visits, doctor appointments, and every chemo agent known to mankind, including 72 of the most excruciatingly painful shots in my thighs. I was no longer able to participate in on-campus classes and the college experience. My three-to-four college classes a semester diminished to one online class a semester. Technically, I have been in college for five years. At this point in one’s educational career, most students would have a bachelor’s degree, be considering graduate school, or starting their career. Frustratingly, after five years I am merely a junior in college.
With dreams of becoming a doctor and all the schooling that it involves, it would be a huge understatement to say this was a damper on my parade, but there is always a brighter perspective to every story. My fortitude has pushed me to take at least one online class every semester since my diagnosis. These online classes helped me to better learn material on my own, enhanced my study skills, and have made me an even better student. I have made the Dean’s List at my new college and have been accepted into one of the leading colleges of the southeastern United States, all while going through such a challenging time in my life. This delay in my academic career ultimately has increased my drive to get back on track and to pour my whole hearted dedication into my future as a neuropsychology researcher. Attending on-campus classes this past semester after a year and a half of isolated online classes was my first feat, getting accepted into the University of Georgia was my next, and now figuring out how to pay for it will be the final step to get back on track.
As the shattered pieces of my life are slowly being pieced back together in a new and better light, and my dreams are being dangled within arm’s reach, I realize I might not even have the means to pursue them. It is adversity that causes us to rise like a phoenix out of the ashes and to be reborn into something beautiful. Though leukemia has delayed my schooling and hindered the already stretched finances, it has increased my ever-present drive. I want to contribute to my family by achieving this college scholarship, as they have already worked hard enough while supporting me in every way through my journey with cancer. I want to contribute to this world with my future research in neuropsychology. I will take advantage of my opportunity to attend the exclusive University of Georgia and complete my upper-level classes to finally graduate.
I have always had the determination to seize what I desire. I am confident that the experiences of my young life will propel me to achieve my goals. I am a 19-year-old cancer survivor; there is nothing that I can’t do!
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