When I was in first grade, my teacher assigned the class a project titled, "All About Me". This project consisted of telling all about your favorite foods, hobbies, colors and other unique characteristics - but at the bottom section there was a blank space with the question, "What do you want to be when you grow up?". I just so happened to find this project I had completed in the first grade the other day while going through some of my things, and my answer surprised me. In this blank space I had written in my sloppy first grade handwriting, the word, "Doctor." Why would this particular answer surprise me? Lots of kids dream about growing up to be doctors, I was one of many. My answer surprised me because to this day that is still my main goal, and to know at such a young age what I wanted to do with my life is a gift from God.
Through my basic public education, I have had many trials and roadblocks. Most of them being personal. When I was younger I was always one of the girls with straight A's, and cried over a B. My third grade year had come and gone, and while enjoying my summer break I was diagnosed with Encephalomyelitis as the result of a mosquito bite. I was stripped of my motor functions and walking abilities, and to this day my memory of this time is still little to none. I was in the hospital for most of the summer, and was not expected to ever function as a normal person again. I wasn't expected to ever go to school and succeed educationally, because of my brain damage. I strove to prove a lot of people wrong that summer, because I was not going to sit there and watch my life dwindle in front of me. Even at the age of nine I saw the potential of the life ahead of me, and I wanted to pursue it. By the time school came around, I was functioning well enough to start school with the rest of my class without any major issues.
After my brain injury, I had to work harder than everyone else to keep up with regular classwork. I still had speech problems well after my release from the hospital, but I eventually learned to cope with it. Education was something I could use to escape from everyday life, something that wouldn't remind me every day that I was damaged even though everyone was telling me I was just fine. I knew some parts of me were never going to be like they were. They never will be. I'll never be able to get excited about something and not mix up my words, but I can read a book and be just as happy, I'm perfectly fine with that.
I began middle school and started to change. My personality began to migrate into a different person than I was before, but the one thing that remained was the love of education and learning new things. At this time, I had begun to have seizures because of my brain injury. This put major setbacks on my education for a few years. I had to be home-schooled at one point because things had gotten so bad with my medications. I had gotten discouraged thinking I had worked so hard for nothing, but with all the love and support from my family, and especially a few of my teachers, really pushed me to keep trying.
By the time I had gotten a little older, I had joined a nursing program through the high school's vocational center. I knew I wanted to be in the medical field, and I thought this would be a good place to start. Through my year in the nursing program I gained confidence in my ability to learn, I became CPR certified and most of all I competed in national level competitions. This opportunity helped me realize that I could really do anything I wanted to do. Nothing was holding me back, not the brain injury, not environmental circumstances. Absolutely nothing. So, I set my sights on becoming a genetic pathologist.
My senior year of high school, I was accepted into one of West Virginia's most prestigious colleges. That to me was an accomplishment in itself. I also graduated high school with honors, something I thought I'd never do when I was just recovering from my brain injury. I've learned to defy odds and come out stronger than I went in.
I chose to further my education because through education I have a voice. I have power through knowledge and I refuse to let my life slip away from me because someone said so. I want to learn new things, and create new things and I can't do that with just my high school education. I want to know everything I can, everything that I was told I couldn't learn. I chose to further my education because I was told I wouldn't, and I want to show everyone who has ever said those words, that they were wrong about me.