It happened; I finally graduated!

Person with glasses and blonde hair is sitting in a wheelchair, wearing university graduation regalia. They’re sitting on a balcony with a clocktower behind them, and holding a decorated graduation cap. The cap says “we are star stuff,” with a space theme.

Seven years.

Over seven years ago, I started college – expecting to graduate in May 2019. Like all best laid plans, that didn’t happen.

The past seven years has been… an adventure, to put it mildly. When I first stepped foot on my college campus, life looked a lot different. I originally chose to major in psychology, but quickly discovered that I didn’t quite “fit in” with the classes.

Meanwhile, my health took a complete nosedive. Multiple medical withdrawals, a transition from walking unaided to needing a wheelchair – these were things that I did not expect or plan for at all. I found that a lot of the medical issues that were dismissed growing up were signs all along, and that realization was a journey in itself. I learned that things that I found “normal” were very much not, both in regards to health and in childhood trauma.

Diagnosed with genetic disorders and several chronic illnesses was definitely not on the radar for me, nor did I anticipate my ridiculously bad luck with head injuries. The cognitive decline related to the traumatic brain injuries has been a hard one to navigate, and the aphasia exacerbated every communication struggle I already had.

The passing of my youngest brother was a shock to the system – and is something I still haven’t fully recovered from, nearly five years later.

The nights when existing was too hard, and I wanted to give up.

It’s been a long seven years.

But in these seven years, I learned how to navigate situations that I never expected.

I crossed the Atlantic alone for the first time to meet my sweet Christopher – and he asked me to marry him.

I learned that I had never been broken or bad at being human; I had been autistic all along – something that a lot of people apparently already knew.

I found myself somehow launched into the world of advocacy – founding an organization on campus, running a community center, coordinating vigils and protests, meeting with representatives in DC, and presenting at conferences. I wrote articles and Op-Eds, guides and posts – things that even somehow got published.

I formed close friendships and made memories I never thought I would – road trips, concerts, adventures, and those late night group discussions.

I learned how to “adult” somewhat (or at least learned how to bluff).

I learned how to conduct research, how to construct academic articles and research proposals, and how to write a thirty page paper without panicking too much.

And – I graduated Magna Cum Laude and as a Ronald E. McNair scholar.

Person with blonde hair and glasses is wearing a blue graduation cap, gown, and regalia. They’re sitting on a swing and smiling.

I couldn’t have done it without the help of friends and loved ones.

The people who supported me as I learned how to navigate the world, the friends who sat with me in countless ER and hospital stays, the ones who were patient and understanding with me over the years.

I am so grateful for so many people.


It’s been a hard seven years, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

2 thoughts on “Graduation!

  1. Yay! Congratulations! Am looking at “I learned how to “adult” somewhat (or at least learned how to bluff)” and thinking, at least you learned the most useful and widely applicable skill in the matter. (I turn 60 this year, what I said there may not actually be the hyperbole it might seem to be at first glance) 😉


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