Epilepsy has been a part Kelli’s life for as long as she can remember. When she was four, her younger sister Emily was diagnosed with Dravet syndrome in 2005. At that time, Dravet syndrome was still a rare and unknown disease, which added to the initial stress of the diagnosis. Kelli had to learn to give Emily the emergency medication needed to stop her seizures and from that point on, Emily’s life was Kelli’s life.
She spent five summers with Emily at summer camp because the counselors were not allowed to administer her medication; she took Emily to numerous appointments, therapies, and extracurricular activities when her parents were not available. Kelli is now Emily’s second guardian. When Kelli was taking Emily to her appointments, she had weekly encounters with physicians, nurses, therapists, and other medical professionals and quickly became interested in the medical field.
She started volunteering at free clinics for patients without insurance and got certified as an EMT. She learned so much about different aspects of health and how small components like access to fresh food, access to medications, and access to education all have a huge impact on our patient’s lives and can sometimes be easily fixed. Kelli increased her involvement with the Dravet Syndrome Foundation, which allowed her to learn more about epilepsy and what research is out there.
Currently, Kelli is enrolled in a Physician Assistant program with the interest of working in Neurology or Psychology. Both of these fields have greatly impacted her, and her family’s lives. She would love to be able to do the same for other families living with similar diseases like Dravet. Becoming a PA gives her the chance to practice in rural settings where primary care is limited and educate my patients about their overall health.