Meet Ariana, one of our inspiring 180 Medical College Scholarship Recipients of 2022. This bright young student plans to use her experience of overcoming Transverse Myelitis (TM) to pursue a career in helping others. We’re proud to recognize her resilience and tenacity with a scholarship award. Find out more about Ariana and her experience as well as her future plans.
Meet Ariana, 2022 Transverse Myelitis Scholarship Recipient
The first day of 7th grade for Ariana was practically perfect. She woke up excited, picked out a special outfit, and attended all her new classes with friends. She recalls looking back at that day and thinking “This will be my best year yet.”
However, later that night, as she lounged on the couch reading a book, she was struck with excruciating pain in her back. Her parents thought she might have pulled a muscle playing basketball. “I knew something was wrong but I was stubborn, and I didn’t want to go to the doctor,” she says. But the pain persisted. Soon, she began having difficulty even just using eating utensils or opening a door.
That’s when her parents rushed her to the emergency room at Boston Children’s Hospital. Not long after arriving, Ariana was already completely paralyzed from the waist down. Her hands and arms were also losing function. It didn’t take long for her doctor to diagnose her with acute Transverse Myelitis.
Battling Transverse Myelitis
Transverse Myelitis is a condition involving severe inflammation of the spinal cord. This can cause pain, paralysis, a high fever, physical weakness, and neurogenic bladder, among other symptoms.
For Ariana, the first course of action was beginning a series of steroid drugs in an attempt to reduce inflammation in her spinal cord. It took a few days, but soon, Ariana was able to wiggle her right toe for the first time.
A few weeks later, she could start moving her legs, but the battle was far from over. She would undergo intensive physical and occupational therapy five days a week for the next few years.
“It was frustrating working so hard just to gain back basic functions, but my therapists motivated me every day,” says Ariana. “Gradually, my strength and mobility improved. I started to grasp the gravity of my situation and the importance of rehabilitative services.”
This experience, she says, was the catalyst for her desire to help others through her future career.
Using Her Experience to Help Others
Ariana says her career goals always centered around healthcare, but her ongoing muscle weakness created some challenges.
“One day, my OT (occupational therapist) suggested I research speech-language pathology,” she says. Finally, she found her calling.
“A career as a speech-language pathologist would allow me to incorporate my desire to help others with my problem-solving abilities and my creative nature,” she says.
And her dream employer? The same hospital that helped her overcome Transverse Myelitis: Boston Children’s Hospital. She hopes to complete college and begin practicing at Boston Children’s Hospital someday, “working in the same facility where I received such excellent care during my most challenging days.”
So far, she’s made the Dean’s List each year at the University of New Hampshire, where she is a senior currently. She’s also working as a research lab assistant, and she acts as a campus ambassador and peer mentor for students with disabilities.
At 180 Medical, we’re all rooting for Ariana! We’re sure she’s going to make a huge impact on her patients someday.
About the 180 Medical Scholarship Program
Have you heard about the 180 Medical College Scholarship Program? We offer a $1,000 college scholarship award to seven college students each year who are seeking opportunities such as:
- Transverse Myelitis scholarship
- Spinal cord injury scholarship
- Spina bifida scholarship
- Scholarship for people with an ostomy (colostomy, ileostomy, or urostomy)
- Scholarship for people living with a neurogenic bladder
We’re now accepting applications for 2023 through June 1st! We invite you to learn more about the eligibility requirements and details for submission at www.180medical.com/scholarships.