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Going to College With a Rare Neurological Condition Made Me Stronger

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There are years I feel like I will never get back. I slacked off in high school, never put myself out there to get a job, make new friends or volunteer and wasted too many years after high school before finally going to college.

But there was a reason. I have a rare neurological condition called Moebius syndrome. Never heard of it? Don’t fret! Most people have not. I am somewhat of a medical mystery, even to doctors. I can’t count how many times I have gone to new doctors, only to have them tell me that they’ve never heard of Moebius and ask what it is and how it affects me.

Moebius mostly affects my speech. It causes facial paralysis, among many other things, and because half of my tongue is paralyzed I can be hard to understand sometimes. While I’ve (kind of) learned how to deal with it, it’s still extremely hard to hear the words, “Sorry, I didn’t understand you,“ or get that dreaded “blank look” when someone can’t make out what I’ve said. 

Despite all of this, in early 2013, I applied to the journalism program at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology. On March 11, 2013, I received my acceptance letter. That is the day that my life changed forever. Going to college and applying to a journalism program was single-handedly the best decision I have ever made.

I won’t deny that it was scary or that my first semester was really hard. I struggled to make friends, and I was too afraid to talk to my teachers, nervous that they wouldn’t understand me. Or even worse, that they would ask themselves, why is that girl even here? Journalism is about communicating with people and verbal communication is clearly not my strong point.

But I could not have been more wrong. Many times over the past two years, teachers have told me I’m going to do great things and that I’m an inspiration to many. But most importantly, they’ve told that I will be someone who makes it in the journalism world. These teachers were the reason I made it through two years of college and I can’t express enough how amazing they were, and still are. The support was unending, and even now I can go to them for help. They all deserve some kind of award for being absolutely incredible human beings.

My classmates were equally as amazing, helping me organize an awareness event at my school on Moebius Syndrome Awareness Day this past January. I have met some lifelong friends in the journalism program and I know that we will always stay in touch.

I never thought that I would be able to make it through college and succeed at something, but I did. I did succeed, and it has shown me that whether I have Moebius syndrome or not, with enough perseverance and strength, I can make it through anything.

Soon, I’ll be graduating with a 3.7 GPA and in two years, I will have my Bachelor of Communication. But my grades aren’t the most important thing. The most important thing is that I did something that I never thought that I could do, met amazing people along the way, learned so much and enjoyed every single second of it. I finally found myself and who I am meant to be.

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Originally published: May 21, 2015
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