Epilepsy has changed my life in a number of ways and has shaped me into the person I am today. Since being diagnosed with epilepsy, my life has been a series of ups and downs. Dealing with this change has been very difficult for me and my mom, but we are learning how to deal with our new normal.
One of the biggest things I have realized since being diagnosed with epilepsy is that life isn’t as easy as it was before my diagnosis. I have struggled with many things including seizures, injuries, hospitalizations, depression, and anxiety. However, I have learned to look on the positive side of things, as hard as that is to do at times. I have used my negative experiences and turned them into lessons for others, so that they don’t go through the same things I have gone through. Another thing I have learned is to not give up. As easy as it may sound to just give up when things get hard, I have learned that by doing that, you can’t move forward. You have to be strong and take each day, one step at a time. By being able to move forward, I have become more successful in my everyday life.
Before I found this scholarship, I was already working to raise epilepsy awareness in my high school. The staff was not trained in epilepsy first aid and didn’t understand my different types of seizures. I prepared a PowerPoint deck and presented it to the student leadership team in an attempt to create an understanding. Recently, I was chosen to be the representative of Iowa for The Teen Speak Up Program. I presented my epilepsy story in Washington, DC to different legislatures and helped ask for 11.5 million dollars in CDC funding for epilepsy training, research, and support programs. I have plans to do different advocacy events, such as helping with public school epilepsy training, participating in the Epilepsy Walk, and continuing to spread as much awareness as possible. The biggest project that I am going to be working on is setting up an online support group for teenagers in Iowa who have epilepsy. When I get this up and going, it will provide a safe space for those who need to talk or find others who share similar experiences. It is important for people with epilepsy to know that they aren’t alone in this fight.
I am planning to go to college to become an Electroneurodiagnostic Technician. Through this profession I will be in contact with people who have epilepsy and I feel my personal experience will be a great benefit. Even though epilepsy has been a very difficult challenge for me and my family, it has shaped me into someone who wants to make a difference in the world. I am proud to be helping others with their epilepsy journey.