Graduation 2014.

Jamie Schanbaum and her UT graduation

One year later, and I still can get butterflies in my stomach thinking about my experience during commencement ceremony.  From the grand, yet long speeches at times, to the celebration with family and friends.  It all flew by so fast, and here I am a year later.  I know I should have posted about this a long time ago, but hey! Late, is better than never.  I hope you were able to look at the video I just posted.  On graduation day, I brought my Gopro (tiny video camera) with me to the ceremonies because I wanted to remember what the whole day was like.  I brought it with me back stage where the students were gathered, waiting to walk anxiously; I had it with me as I walked to graduate, and during the University-wide commencement ceremony where President Bill Powers gave a very rewarding speech about me as a student at UT.  When I fell ill to meningitis, I wasn’t even able to enjoy a full semester at UT yet.  It’s bizarre to look back at my college experience and consider the fact that I was a “disabled” student for the majority of the time.  I don’t and I’m  sure many others would agree with me in saying that, I don’t feel handicapped.  I live my life everyday with passion and drive, and look forward to what comes next.  It’s most important to take your best step forward in any situation, and that’s what I did when I was recovering from meningitis.  As a college student, I went from a confident young lady that would strut her stuff on campus while listening to her favorite tunes, to a very frail, partially bald, unequipped student in a wheelchair.  My self-confidence was at an all time low, and yet, I still decided to put my best foot forward (or best push).  Meningitis is an awful disease where it’s rare to survive and I survived it! Yes, I nearly died and had some amputations, but my life kept going and I didn’t let it stop me from prevailing in college.  As college students, you’re at a higher risk of getting the disease due to the behavior (sharing drinks, cigarettes, kisses) and how it’s passed (saliva secretions), which is why I am so grateful that the Jamie Schanbaum & Nicolas Williams Act was passed to protect students from this disease.  As a new college student, I felt invincible without really thinking it, and then all of a sudden my life was turned upside down and I had to put school on hold.  Despite these slight setbacks, not only was the bill passed and I was able to pursue a competitive cycling career as part of the US Paralympic cycling team, but also I was really able to enjoy my remaining years as a college student.  Yes, I had to learn how to walk on prosthetics and how to use my hands, but I was able to have a normal college experience; From long nights of studying to long nights of parties, and making friends, and dancing the night away with them.  There is so much to be grateful for, and I know it now more than ever.  Life is precious, and it’s important to know not to take it for granted.  I’m appreciative for the life I live everyday.