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Helena Works Past the Challenges of Spina Bifida

Meet Helena 2018 180 Medical Scholarship

Today, we’re introducing the last one out of our seven 2018 scholarship recipients. Feel free to take a look at all our other 180 Medical College Scholarship recipients who’ve already been featured on our blog, including Kale, MarissaAlainaIan, Lauren, and Macolin.

We really hope you’ve enjoyed getting to know these students and their goals of helping others with their future careers. On top of that, we’re really excited to begin judging the new batch of applications that are flowing in for our 2019 180 Medical College Scholarship Program. Don’t forget that the deadline to apply is June 1st!

Spina Bifida Appearing in Later Childhood

lena at home

For many children born with Spina Bifida, the symptoms aren’t always severe enough to be immediately detected. That’s close to the case of what happened with Helena. She always felt mostly able-bodied, so she never knew she actually had a disability. “I felt invincible,” she says of that time in her life.

That all changed when her doctor told her she would need to get spinal surgery at eleven years old. Then one surgery turned into eight, ranging from very invasive to minor.

Unfortunately, after multiple surgeries and hospitalizations, she missed a lot of school days. In fact, she accrued 180 total absences throughout those crucial times during middle school. Additionally, she experienced nerve damage and lost function of her left foot and ankle.

Being Disabled Changed Everything

Of course, this was an incredibly hard period in Helena and her family’s lives. But also, Helena felt the situation negatively impacted her academics. Despite her setback, Helena studied hard and made the most of the time she had in high school.

Helena isn’t afraid to admit that having a disability isn’t easy. It set her back from many of her passions at first. Sometimes she feels sad that she has to use a crutch or a brace.

For a while, she thought she’d never keep up with the others on her swim team again. However, after a while, she began to realize that sticking with it helped her improve at what she loved most in life.

Without her experience of living through multiple surgeries and having Spina Bifida, she feels she wouldn’t be the person she is today.

helena spina bifida disability quote

Working Through Her Disability to Succeed

helena and swim team
Helena with some of her friends and swim teammates

On top of taking on her schoolwork with a renewed passion, Helena continued participating in her school’s swim team.

Thanks to her hard work, she’s now training under former Paralympians and hopes to make the cut for Team USA’s Paralympic swim team. She also earned a Varsity Letter for Swim.

Other awards and honors include being a part of the Art Honor Society, English Honor Society, Senior Leader at her school, and earning The Rock Award and the Unsung Hero Award.

Additionally, she decided she wanted to do more for others. She became a part of the Teen Advisory Committee at Boston Children’s Hospital to take on projects and advocate to improve healthcare for kids and teens. She was the founder and co-president of the LEAD (Leadership, Education, and Awareness for Disabilities and Diseases Club), and she also participated in various volunteering events for Spina Bifida advocacy.

If it weren’t for Spina Bifida, I may have never found my passion for the medical field that has led me to Northeastern University as a nursing major, which is the perfect place to continue my education.

Today, Helena is cruising through school and working toward a career as a nurse so she can help others living with disabilities like Spina Bifida. At 180 Medical, we’re excited to see the ways Helena’s experiences will positively change others’ lives.

helena williamson 4 Cropped

About 180 Medical’s Scholarship Program

We’re still accepting applications to our 2019 180 Medical College Scholarship Program through June 1st!

Get full eligibility requirements and download your 2019 scholarship application at

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Call Toll-Free (877) 688-2729

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About the Author
Helena Works Past the Challenges of Spina Bifida
Jessica is the Sr. Marketing Specialist at 180 Medical, and she has been with the company for over 14 years now. She loves getting to be creative in her role and hearing from customers about the positive impact we've made on their lives.

Outside of work, you can find her hanging out with her husband and their dogs or browsing garden centers (where she will almost certainly buy another houseplant she doesn't really need).