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Calista’s Story

2020 Educational Enrichment Fund Scholar

Children’s health is my passion!  Having experienced absence seizures and a bone weakness during my childhood, as well as witnessing other adolescents who were being treated for more severe medical diagnoses during my time at Seattle Children’s Hospital, I was inspired to pursue a career in pediatric medicine. Now I am seizure-free due to a wonderful antiseizure medication, and my bones are stronger than ever!

I am thankful for my excellent medical care teams here at home and in Seattle. During those scary times of my life, I found comfort talking with my pediatrician, neurologists, orthopedic specialist, and physician assistants.  This comfort was not because they always had the news I wanted to hear, but because I knew they saw me as more than a patient.  They saw me as a teenager who had big dreams and goals. They understood my medical conditions and worked to find the best treatments for me.  It is my dream to use the love I now have for medicine and provide my future pediatric patients and their parents comfort and a path to healing.  I want to go that extra mile, as my doctors did for me, and be an agent of change when I am a physician assistant in pediatrics.

I will be attending Whitworth University and will pursue a Bachelor’s in Health Sciences.  Whitworth’s mission statement is “To provide its diverse student body an education of the mind and heart…”  After graduating, I hope to serve as a clinical assistant gaining valuable hands-on, patient experience, then attend a Physician Assistant Graduate Program.

Anxiety is a common side effect of antiseizure medications, and I experienced this. In Psychology 101, I learned many adolescents are undiagnosed or untreated with anxiety and/or depression. I volunteered at my school’s mental health fair and at the suicide awareness and prevention walk.  These opportunities provide a way to fight the stigma that goes along with mental health illnesses and gave me confidence to stand against the stigma of epilepsy and educate others.  I look forward to helping adolescents who are facing mental health crises and neurological illnesses, like epilepsy.

The blessings that flowed from my medical hardships have taken time to come to fruition, but I have seen light at the end of the tunnel. Apart from discovering my love for medicine, I learned a lot about myself in this healing process.  I learned serving others brings me true joy! As I prepare for my future, I will always remain true to this valuable lesson, which has become my life’s focus.

When I reflect on my health challenges, it reminds me of a geode rock.  In life we take hits, but with optimism, hard work, and the grace of God, our greatest strengths can be revealed and it is beautiful. I once thought my epilepsy and bone weakness were my greatest weaknesses, but now realize my experiences can be used for good as I have a true desire to help children who are facing medical crises.

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