The day I was born, I was immediately rushed to surgery for Tracheoesophageal Fistula. The lower portion of my esophagus was connected to my trachea and not to the rest of my esophagus. I could breathe, but there was a chance I could aspirate. Within the first three years of my life, I’ve had over four dozen procedures requiring anesthesia, many involving balloon dilations of my esophagus, 8 birth defects, including an extra thumb, and a Bone Marrow Transplant (BMT) at age three in 2002 in Minneapolis. The decade before, the success rate for BMT’s was only about 25%. By the time I received my new cells, the success rate was nearly 75% because they started giving patients with FA less chemotherapy and radiation prior to transplant. I am incredibly grateful to be alive every day.
By my junior year of High School, I had stopped growing at a height of 4 feet 8 inches, weighing about 52 lbs. Over time, I learned of ways I could continue to gain weight, which involves a feeding tube for supplemental nutrition. I still live with Fanconi Anemia, including the high-risk for developing cancers at some point in life and associated medical conditions. Despite all I have endured, including lung collapses and a month-long hospitalization, I have an amazing quality of life! I can eat, breath, walk, speak, see, and hear! I may not do any of them as well as most people but the point is I can still live my life without major life qualities severely affected.
After graduating Maine South High School in 2017, I studied business and philosophy as an honor student at Oakton Community College, where I become a prominent student leader on campus as the elected Student Trustee of the SGA, restarted the student newspaper (OCCurrence) as it's Editor-in-Chief, became an officer of Oakton's Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society chapter, and held various student employment positions. After graduating with my Associate's Degree from Oakton in 2019 with scholarships and awards, I transferred to Northeastern Illinois University where I earned both my BA in Philosophy and BS in Business Administration in 2021.
In October 2021, I moved to Cincinnati, OH working at various Amazon fulfillment centers primarily as an HR Associate Partner. In January 2023, I left Amazon to pursue may public speaking career full-time.