Replies to Ypsilanti New Tech High School

Replies to Ypsilanti New Tech High School

Hey all

Things have been pretty chaotic since my last post.  I thought I would take some time to respond to the letters you guys have sent in over the last few weeks.  I LOVE them!  The timing couldn’t have been more perfect.  I received them last week (the 16th) and that was a pretty stressful day.  I was heading out to work for 2 meetings that I was nervous about so it was awesome reading your letters on the way.  The meetings went fine, but it seemed like everything was stressful that day.  We found out that my grandpa in Tennessee had to go the ER, the girl whose desk is right by mine was listening to really good but kinda sad music (think John Mayer, Jason Mraz etc.) and then my dad and I got rear ended on our way home.  We’re fine but our van is in the shop for a few days.  :(  So, your letters put a smile on my face on what was otherwise a rough day. :)

I love and agree with all of your different definitions of beauty.  Beauty isn’t determined by how you look, it depends on your personality, how you treat others, and how you use your skills and talents to make a difference.  :)

First I’ll answer the questions that a few of you asked and then I’ll respond to your individual ones.

College/ Career stuff:  I have both a bachelor’s and master’s degree.  For my bachelor’s I studied Communications.  I like to write, do web design and social media stuff.  I then went to receive my Master of Social Work (which is why it says MSW after my name).  It’s neat because the type of social work I am interested in relates more to advocacy and working with groups of people instead of doing therapy/counseling.  My involvement with PEARLS is a great mix of all my different interests.

Family:  I have one sister named Cara who is turning 22.  She is a junior at Eastern.  We get along well for the most part.


Collage #1

After graduating with my MSW I moved back home with my parents.  Eventually I would like to move back to Ann Arbor because I had more independence since the bus system where I live now isn’t that great.  My parents have talked about moving out there off and on but we will see what happens.  We have also talked about moving down south where it’s warmer.

Living with my condition:  I have a genetic form of Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita.  It makes it so that I can’t straighten out any of my joints.  I don’t necessarily have trouble moving my legs and arms, they just can’t move past a certain point.  I have trouble doing things like reaching the top of my head (can’t put my hair back on my own).  After high school I had more energy to focus on independence skills.  For example I can get dressed on my own, depending on the particular clothes I pick out.  Some pieces are easier than others.  A lot of it depends on how I’m feeling too.  One day I may feel great and can do a ton on my own.  Other times I might be tired, sore or getting sick and then I need more help.  I always need help when I’m sick.  It just takes a lot out of me.  I am able to cook a little bit using my microwave and countertop oven.  We also just got a George Foreman grill that I want to practice with.

I’m also small, and have pretty severe scoliosis.  This has affected my breathing and I use a ventilator at night with a face mask.  This gives my lungs a chance to rest but also keeps them open so they don’t get weak.  I use my wheelchair most of the time but can walk short distances.  In fact, last night I took my walker to Applebees (shocker I know haha).  I just get tired and out of breath easily.  I also have glasses and hearing aids.  My vision affects me a lot because this is what stops me from trying to drive a car.  It’s also easier to have someone go out and about with me if I never been there before.  Once I’m comfortable with my surroundings I’m usually okay.  I think the reason I seem very happy is because this my normal. :)  I’ve never known anything different so I just make it work.

Collage #2


Now on to your individual questions:

Kiyla:  Awe!!  You’re so sweet.  Thank you so much for everything you said <3.  I’m glad to hear that your cousin is doing well.  I’m sure he will amaze you and your family every day with everything that he is going to learn and do.  Even the simplest things can be so exciting.  Thank you again for writing to me.  :)

Doriyahna:  Happy (belated) birthday!  Thank you for saying I have a pretty voice, sometimes I’m not sure about it.  If you put your mind to it I’m sure you will graduate college.  What do you want to study?  My dreams as a kid… hm.  I’m not sure.  I know I wanted to be a librarian for a few years because I love to read.  I don’t think I felt too insecure.  I was fortunate that I didn’t have any experiences with bullying.  Instead I just didn’t have a ton of friends.  That got hard at times, especially when there were dances (I only went to one during high school).  I don’t remember ever being overly upset with other people for things like staring or asking questions.  I’m sure it got annoying at times but I kinda just went with it.  I can only think of two or three times when someone was really rude.  Most of the time people are just curious.  Do I feel beautiful about myself- I guess so!  I feel like my overall self-esteem is pretty balanced.  I’m not overly critical or self-conscious but it’s not out of control either.  :)  Thank you for all of your questions!

Mikayla:  Thank you for also saying you think my voice is pretty.  :)  Yes, I love both The Fault In Our Stars (TFIOS) and Divergent.  I read TFIOS in one day.  I feel like I related to both Hazel and Gus.  Hazel is a little more calm, quiet and at times cynical.  Some of the more serious / sad things that Hazel said also seemed to hit home.  On the other hand, Gus was much more upbeat, goofy and adorable.   I remember thinking “Awee I want an Augustus Waters!”  Some of my favorite quotes from the book / movie:

“Only now that I loved a grenade did I understand the foolishness of trying to save others from my own impending fragmentation: I couldn’t unlove Augustus Waters. And I didn’t want to.”

“See, the thing is… we all wanna be remembered. But Hazel’s different. Hazel knows the truth. She didn’t want a million admirers, she just wanted one. And she got it. Maybe she wasn’t loved widely, but she was loved deeply.

“You are so busy being YOU that you have no idea how utterly unprecedented you are.”

To answer your other questions: Yes I have lived in Michigan my whole life.  My short and long term goals… I think short term I want to pass my licensing exam this summer.  I really need to focus on studying for that.  I am working towards my full social work licensure and need to pass the exam as one of the requirements.  Long term, I want to settle somewhere where I can be as independent as possible.  Whether that’s in Ann Arbor or somewhere warmer.  I want to be somewhere where I can get around in the community on my own (at least for some things).  I would like to fall in love and get married someday (I have a whole Pinterest board about it :).  I don’t have a bucket list but maybe I should make one.  I’ll have to think about that.  I have talked with Rick in person 4 times and he is AMAZING!  I love how he says amazing, his personality is fun and enthusiastic.  Very cool.  I’ve included a picture from last fall when I saw him in Ohio for a Positive Exposure exhibit.  I would love to meet you as well :)

Eli:  Thank you, that is so sweet of you to say that I’m beautiful in your eyes! :)  In my free-time I like to read, watch movies (Harry Potter, The Fault In Our Stars, Divergent etc.) and listen to music.  Right now I’m obsessed with the Sam Smith album.  I also like to go shopping.  My favorite restaurant is probably Applebees.  That’s awesome that you play trivia at Buffalo Wild Wings!  My favorite food is chicken.  I’m not a huge sports fan but I did play wheelchair soccer and hockey for a little while.  I liked soccer more than hockey.  It was a little easier because most of my hockey teammates had been playing for years and basically lived and breathed hockey. So they knew different plays and all the rules.  I was kinda like uhhhh what do I do now most of the time. Haha.

Andrei & Saul:  Andrei, I hope you continue to like math!  Engineering is really important.  I think I was motivated to continue with school after high school because I always loved learning.  I don’t ever remember being told I couldn’t go to college.  I knew it was something I wanted to do.  I also think that my personality has a lot to with it.  I feel like in general I’m a pretty easygoing and happy person.  I don’t get upset about or focus on the things I can’t do.  I would be lying though if I said everything was great.  It seems like the last year or two have been harder.  But that has a lot to do with the fact my back pain has increased some.  Or, I notice it more because I’m not as busy.  It’s hard to tell.  Some of the challenges and struggles I faced during school… I think I struggled health wise and at times socially.  My health was pretty rocky all through about 2nd grade until graduation.  It was during 2nd grade (I think) that I got really really sick and had to be flown by helicopter from the local hospital to the one in Ann Arbor.  I don’t remember it all though.  In 3rd grade I started using my wheelchair more at school.  From 4th-12th grade I used oxygen during the day (like Hazel from The Fault In Our Stars).  After I graduated I was able to come off it because I knew I could ask for it again if I needed it.  I couldn’t do it on my own and during high school I was on my own for most of the day.  So it would’ve been a “big deal” for me to need it.  But when I went to college the classes were only a few hours each.  I was more confident that I would be ok.  It was a little hard if I missed school because I would have to make up my homework and stuff but I always got good grades.  Socially, it was hard sometimes because my friends could do stuff I couldn’t.  I tend to be shy too which made/makes it harder to reach out to others.

I hope I answered everyone’s questions!  Sorry for basically writing a novel.  I like to talk (and write) haha.

<3 Rebecca

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