In August of this year, we announced the recipients of the 2019 180 Medical College Scholarship. As part of our tradition, we like to shine a spotlight on these amazing students and their future dreams. Because October is Spina Bifida Awareness Month, we’re introducing a young woman with spina bifida who has big goals and an even bigger heart. Meet Lauren!
Growing Up with Spina Bifida
While Lauren was born with spina bifida, it wasn’t immediately detected. It wasn’t until she was 2 years old that doctors diagnosed her officially. Unfortunately, Lauren’s parents were told she would likely never walk or dance. Still, they weren’t going to give up on their little girl.
It was a long road ahead for Lauren with many days spent in the hospital and the ICU as well as months in physical therapy. Lauren went through multiple surgeries to help her as she grew and had to wear leg braces. But soon, her parents signed her up for a class in ballet. There would still be surgeries and leg braces for years to come, but Lauren became passionate about dancing. Even though her braces made it more difficult, she was determined to keep practicing. Her dance classes advanced into options like tap dance, jazz, Irish, and hip hop.
That’s not to say that her life was without its challenges. For example, she still wanted to have a normal life, despite having to schedule surgeries around her school and extracurricular activities while staying in honors. Lauren says this time of life “taught me time management as well as an appreciation for the time I did have.” Lauren made time to stay on the Dean’s List while also keeping up with dance, and devoting hours and hours to volunteering and attending regular events for her local Illinois Spina Bifida Association chapter.
Despite living with a routine of medical supplies and leg braces, Lauren stayed positive and maintained a joyful attitude.
Maintaining a Positive Mindset
Lauren’s firsthand experience with living with spina bifida allowed her to better understand the hardships of others. But she says that nothing woke her up quite like meeting others with her condition who had hopeless attitudes. She realized then that she never wanted to limit herself like that.
More importantly, meeting and making friends with others with similar conditions at conferences and camps helped her feel like she wasn’t alone. She saw grown adults with spina bifida who inspired her to pursue a life she wants. That means making steps every single day to keep up with her physical health, as well as trying new things and challenging herself to choose a career that helps her grow while helping others.
Today, Lauren is pursuing a career in Healthcare Administration at the University of Kentucky. “I want a career in which I am helping people and using the knowledge I have gained and the empathy I have towards those who suffer medically,” Lauren says. “This occupation will allow me to share my personal experience with others while helping to improve their lives and health.”
This year at school, Lauren is on the University of Kentucky’s College of Health Sciences Diversity and Inclusion Board. “I’m excited to use this platform to expand awareness for spina bifida and improve inclusion among individuals with disabilities both on and off-campus.” She hopes that spreading awareness will lead to greater understanding and acceptance.
It’s clear that Lauren will go on to achieve great things. We’re honored to be able to support her in her goals.
About 180 Medical’s Scholarship Program
Find out more about our annual scholarship award at www.180medical.com/scholarships. We will begin accepting new scholarship applications on January 1st, 2020.