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MICUA Matters Newsletter

Student Voice: MSMU Student, Advocate, and Small Business Owner

Winter 2017

Victoria Graham first learned of Mount St. Mary’s University when she took dual enrollment courses at the University in high school. After high school, Graham attended an out-of-state university seeking a degree in biology on the pre-medical track, but the diagnosis of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, which causes neurological complications and severe spinal instability, made college too taxing to pursue — until she looked at the Mount's undergraduate program for adult students.

Over the past five years, I learned that there is no race to earn a college degree. This realization came after ten brain and spinal neurosurgeries over the course of only three years, which completely interrupted my entire life. Throughout this process, I began working with the Miss Maryland and Miss America organizations and founded a non-profit organization of my own, The Zebra Network, which works to increase awareness, ed­ucation, advocacy and support for patients with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. Between service events and appearances, running a non-profit, and managing my own health, going back to school to earn my undergraduate degree in the traditional format was nearly impossible.

It had been a year and seven surgeries since I had even attempted a college course, and since that time I had suffered significant brain damage, my mental capabilities were altered, and, above all, I was nervous. When I learned about the opportunities in the Mount’s adult undergraduate program, it seemed like a great fit for my schedule and for me personally. Not many schools offer the ability to work and go to school; but with this program, I could work during the day and go to class at night. The course met once a week for only five weeks.

I am so excited to earn my degree through the Mount in a way that fits my lifestyle as a working adult. I can continue my education in a way that does not sacrifice my job or other commitments. I can serve my community and raise awareness for invisible illnesses as Miss Frostburg 2017. I can work as founder and president for The Zebra Network. I can finally earn my undergraduate degree.

A career in health care and the non-profit sector can be extremely difficult to obtain, but by earning my degree at the Mount, I know I will defy the odds of living and working with a disability. I am ready to soar in my career thanks to experiences only offered through the adult undergraduate program at Mount St. Mary’s University.

By Victoria Graham