Almost two years ago, we shared Maria’s story with you. Maria, who was 18 at the time, was getting ready to graduate from high school. Now 19, Maria is more confident and full of surprises!
Maria continued to dream—and dream BIG! Maria explains that her diagnosis (Myofibrillar Myopathy, a progressive muscular disease requiring her dependence on mechanical ventilation) is behind much of her motivation to succeed.
“I feel like I was given a second chance at life, and I want to make the most of it!” she explains.
In January, Maria began attending Morton College, taking the first step toward a degree in social work. When she graduates, she will be the first member of her family to receive a college degree.
Since Maria’s high school graduation, she has been working hard to get to college. Maria needed to submit extra paperwork to get approval for her nurses to attend class with her. Her nurses provide medically necessary care and support, so Maria is safe while on campus.
When Maria was waiting for her acceptance, she had time to think about what she really wants out of college.
She entertained the idea of becoming a photographer and even an auto mechanic—a true testament to how Maria doesn’t let her physical restrictions hold her back from following her heart. Maria eventually chose social work.
“I think I’ll be good at it [social work] because I can share my experiences with other people.” Maria is hoping to work with kids and teenagers some day.
Maria’s nurses attend college with her Monday through Friday. She is currently a full-time student enrolled in English, Math, First Aid, and College Study Seminar.
Raising Funds for College Supplies
Maria needs to complete her coursework at the computer lab or campus library because she doesn’t have a computer or printer at home. This simple task can be challenging because she relies on her nurses, family, and friends to get around.
To help raise money for a personal laptop and printer, Maria recently set up a GoFundMe account. She is hoping that her family, friends, and community will help her obtain these essential college items. Check out Maria’s GoFundMe page.
“With all of my medical bills and college tuition, it’s very hard to purchase these items for myself,” Maria explains. She continues, “I saw that this [GoFundMe] worked for other people, so I thought I would give it a try!”
Educating Her Peers
One thing that didn’t stop after high school is the frequent questions, comments, jokes, and sometimes, even stares, Maria receives from her peers about her tracheostomy and ventilator. Instead of feeling self conscious, Maria decided to start educating her peers on social media.
Maria posted several videos of her trach and g-tube changes to answer some of the noise swirling around her social circle. The videos are met with a disclaimer, “If you have a weak stomach, don’t watch!”
Videos of Maria changing her g-tube (including images of stomach contents) prove that she has real guts—literally.
Facebook friends ask in the comments “What does it do (referring to a tracheostomy)?”
Maria’s response: “A clean opening to breathe. I’ve had it for seven years and probably will have it for life. I can’t complain—it’s keeping me alive.”
Maria finally has a platform to answer some of the most pressing questions. She is refreshingly open and helps everyone feel more at ease.
Maria’s fresh attitude and confidence give her the motivation to keep going. She’s not afraid of what other people think of her—and stops at nothing to follow her dreams.