SEIZURE SAFE SCHOOLS
I recently had the opportunity to commit to college for archery. I have dreamt of this chance for years, but the decision was easy. The idea of moving across the country is intimidating for any teenager, but when you have seizures, it is terrifying. I had to choose between attending a university close to home, doctors, friends, family, etc., or following my dream and moving far from everything. My college tour was full of anxiety. Rather than worrying about which dorm was best or which sorority I wanted to rush to, I was looking for the disabilities office to discuss a plan for me actually to pass my classes. Luckily, the school I committed to was the most supportive and accommodating school I have seen.
I got into seven different schools throughout the country. When trying to get accommodations from the disabilities offices, I was faced with judgment and rejection. I was told things such as, “well, maybe you wouldn’t have epilepsy if you just attended church regularly” and “if you feel you need to be accommodated to attend our university, you should not come.” Coaches told me that I was too much of a liability, and if I wanted to travel with the team, I would have to leave my service dog at home. Time and time again, I was let down. I began to feel like college was not my path and tried to think of alternative career paths that would not require a degree. The stars must have aligned when the coach of the University of Pikeville reached out to me. I knew I could spend the next four years of life supported by the professors and administration. The team instantly accepted me and treated me like every other recruit.
Through this experience, I have learned to fight for myself and my well-being. I turned down full scholarships from major universities to put my health first. Despite what others wanted, I chose a school I felt I could thrive.
Making the decision greatly impacted my health. For months I had stress hives and stress seizures because I feared making the “wrong” decision. As soon as I signed, a weight was lifted off my chest. My heart rate dropped, and everything seemed to feel a lot easier.
The moral of the story is that your path, whether college or not, is up to you. You must do what you think you will succeed in. You must advocate for yourself, and eventually, everything will line up.