I was on a panel this last week, interviewing scholarship applicants. It was an amazing experience to speak with seniors from diverse backgrounds, and yet all possessing similar, hopeful futures. One girl in particular impressed me. She had a disease called HLH (the full name is Hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis; no wonder they've given it an acronym). She needed drug therapy in 6th grade, chemotherapy in 7th grade, and finally, a bone marrow transplant in 8th grade. While she was in the hospital recovering from the surgery, she suffered from a brain bleed, permanently affecting her short term memory. She started 9th grade free of HLH, but struggled to learn and retain information.
She told us how she would go to class everyday, tape record the lectures, then listen to them at night to understand the information. She did this everyday, from freshman to senior year. She wants to become a Life Coach for children who are in the hospital for treatment similar to her own, and hopes to help them. When we asked her if she had an obstacle to attending college, she simply said: "Myself. I have to overcome myself everyday."
I was struck by this statement, and have mulled over it since. I was impressed by this girl's determination to succeed in her education; she truly was overcoming her limitations on a daily basis. It reminded me of a quote by Thomas a Kempis:
"He who is living without discipline is exposed to grievous ruin....Who hath a harder batttle to fight than he who striveth for self-mastery? And this should be our endeavor, even to master self, and thus daily to grow stronger than self and go on unto perfection."
Although I was the one asking the questions during the scholarship interview, I learned from this young girl's example. The jewel of wisdom she shared: we don't overcome our weakness in one grand moment, we simply work at it everyday. I think I've always known this, but to see an 18-year old have the courage to go to school everyday, keep studying when her brain can't remember something that happened five minutes ago is an example I want to hold onto, and overcome my limitations everyday as well.