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“Call off the priest. We have a live birth.” Moments before I took my first breath, doctors were sure that I wouldn’t make it out of the ICU alive. I was born three months premature and weighed two pounds, eleven ounces. Doctors officially diagnosed me with Cerebral Palsy at the age of two, and I have been confined to a wheelchair ever since. Throughout my twenty years of life, I’ve been told that because of my wheelchair, I would experience my fair share of challenges. When I was younger, I knew that what most would consider simple tasks would prove difficult for me: dressing myself, showering, and even transferring in and out of a car.
However, after a lot of perseverance and tenacity, I mastered these skills. To this day, I still have those same traits of diligence, and when I started my collegiate journey at Moorpark College I needed them more than ever before. Two weeks after I graduated from high school, my mom moved to Virginia to accommodate my stepfather’s job as a BM1 in the Coast Guard. Even though my mom hated to leave me, I was on my own to realize my dreams of attending a four-year university. Despite the fact that I had a negative balance in my bank account, a broken-down wheelchair (affectionately named “Old Faithful”), and no insurance, I vowed to become self-sufficient and independent in all aspects of my life so that I could eventually transfer to a school like University of San Francisco. I opened up my own bank account, fought for Supplemental Security Income and insurance (which allowed me to finally put “Old Faithful” to rest), and tackled 12-14 units a semester.
While my personal independence and circumstances improved, I zeroed in on my passion for English Literature and the written word. I began writing articles for USA Today’s college section about my journey as a disabled college student, I updated my blog “Just Roll With It” to chronicle all my experiences, and I immersed myself in the writing process of my soon-to-be published memoir The Girl On The Red Scooter. It is through my writing, and my passion for all things literary, that I have successfully changed the perspectives of my peers and instructors about those with disabilities. I also managed to change the way I see myself. My world opened up while I was attending Moorpark College, and suddenly, I began to understand that the independence I desired was about more than overcoming my disability. It was about having my own ideas and aspirations and seeing them come to fruition. I have already accomplished my dream of publication as a writer, but I believe that I am not done yet.
At USF, I want to continue to immerse myself in writing and publishing, and will certainly submit some of my work to the university’s literary magazine, The Ignatian. I want to use my love affair with words to continue shattering stereotypes, to one day prepare myself for my occupation as a university professor. When that day comes, I want my future students to see the same beauty in not only English, but also life, as I do. In order to make peace with myself and my disability and discover my independence, I had to follow my passion. I am more than certain that, at USF, my passion for English and the entire world it describes will only grow larger. The University of San Francisco is more than just a college to me. It’s a place I’ve seen myself many times, especially the times I thought of giving up. It is the place where I can be who I am and do what I love.
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