By Sharon Salyer Herald Writer
Question: What courses are you taking in your first year in the Running Start program?
Answer: I took a couple economic classes I really like. Right now, I’m taking math and computer science classes. All three are potential majors for me. Not like a triple major, but I’m interested in all three of them. Because I didn’t do it my junior year, I won’t graduate with an associate degree like some do.
Q: Would you talk a little about your academics and the challenges you’ve faced over the past few years?
A: I have a 3.8 GPA. I had some health issues the first three years of high school, which is why I couldn’t do Running Start my junior year. I missed nearly one-fourth of my classes from my freshman year to my junior year. That took a toll on my GPA.
Q: Would you mind talking about your medical issues?
A: That’s been a huge part of my life. I was taking antibiotics for acne. It’s ironic. I chose them because they were the safest ones available. Severe side effects only happened in 1 out every 1,000 people. I was that unlucky person, and because it was such a rare case, they didn’t know what was going on.
Q: How did they figure it out?
A: In hindsight they inferred almost that I had drug-induced lupus which compromised my immune system for a while. I got hit with a bacterial infection in my lungs and celiac disease. They don’t know if the drug-induced lupus caused the celiac disease or if it’s kind of a rare situation.
Q: So it caused a variety of problems?
A: My lungs kind of went through the wringer. I would catch colds all the time partly because of my lungs being so bad. One of the major side effects was fatigue, which was a huge factor in why I missed so much school. I had to give up basketball. My body couldn’t handle the competitiveness at the varsity levels.
Q: What impact did all this have on you life?
A: It was an experience that taught me a lot about hard work and perseverance. I was missing 1 out of every 4 days. I was constantly behind. I didn’t want to fall behind so I had to work hard just to stay even with the class. It was a new experience having to work so hard when stuff usually came naturally to me.
Q: This might sound simplistic, but did that experience provide a lesson in itself?
A: It wasn’t always fun with health issues but it taught me life lessons. I wouldn’t say I was glad to have it happen but I wouldn’t change anything if I could.
I had always been kind of at the top of the class. I didn’t have to study super hard for tests, just pay attention in class and read over the chapter. But a lot of times I couldn’t make it to the classes. Sometimes I was having to teach myself the material. I would get so far behind it seemed insurmountable. It taught me the meaning of perseverance. I had to push so hard. Sometimes I didn’t know if I could make it. I had to keep pushing.
Q: Did that experience help you relate better to students who didn’t just naturally get things in class and for whom school was more of a struggle?
A: It definitely did. I wouldn’t always relate to people who had to put in so much time. It kind of made me see where others come from. Not everyone learns at the same pace.
Q: And that led to you volunteering your time with students who need extra help?
A: Yes, I tutor now. That’s also a huge thing, how everyone learns differently. One person may not make a connection that others do. So when I tutor I try to lay out information for them. I realize they won’t realize how I get it. I try to explain it and give all the information, and if they don’t understand I’ll explain it again.
I’ve been tutoring algebra 2 and pre-calculus and helping a couple friends in calculus, too.
Q: There are many things, then, that you’ve learned from overcoming your health problems.
A: I can certainly relate more with other people, not just in school. Everyone goes through tough times. I’ve learned to treat people kinder.
When something is going wrong, people don’t always show it. I always try to be kind and helpful and if they need anything, I let them know I’m there for them.
Q: What colleges are you interested in?
A: I’ve only applied to a couple — Gonzaga University, Whitman College and Occidental College. I want to go to a college where I know my professors and feel comfortable talking to them. I don’t feel like a big school would do that for me.
Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486 or firstname.lastname@example.org.