Congratulations to members of the graduating Class of 2015!
Our care teams have had the pleasure of getting to know these incredible young people over the years while they have been patients at Cincinnati Children’s. On top of their dedication and hard work in the classroom, these strong-willed students have overcome medical obstacles as well to achieve their dreams and reach this milestone.
We’d like to take this opportunity to share a few of their stories and wish all graduating seniors an abundance of success in their future endeavors!
Elizabeth graduated from Bowling Green State University on May 9. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Studies and looks forward to working as a full-time missionary with Campus Crusade for Christ. Elizabeth’s life was turned upside down at age 17 when she was diagnosed with restrictive cardiomyopathy (RCM). Four months after being listed for a heart transplant, she received the call of a lifetime while sitting in her dorm room at BGSU. Elizabeth received her new heart at the end of her sophomore year and said that finishing college was a motivator for her during the recovery process.
“My doctors and nurses would often joke with me as I graded and wrote many essays from my hospital bed,” said Elizabeth, who served as an undergraduate teaching assistant while staying active in campus life. “I consider it a joint victory with my family, friends, and care team at Cincinnati Children’s that I was able to graduate with Magna Cum Laude honors from BGSU in four years – with the minor interruption of a heart transplant in the middle of my college career! I am incredibly blessed!”
Samantha graduated from Miami University (Oxford) on May 17 with her Bachelor of Science in Special Education. This fall she will begin teaching as a 6th grade Intervention Specialist at her elementary alma mater St. Ignatius Loyola School in Cincinnati. At age 13, Samantha was diagnosed with Ewings sarcoma, a type of childhood bone cancer. She has been in remission since 2007 after 14 rounds of chemotherapy and an extensive surgery to remove a tumor in her leg.
“I am consistently grateful to be here, to be a ‘normal’ 22-year-old, and I know that wouldn’t have been possible without Cincinnati Children’s and the care I received there. Burnet Campus will always feel like a second home,” Samantha said. She thanked her younger sister, Margaret, for always supporting her and making her smile through treatments. Congratulations to Margaret, as well, who graduated this spring from Mercy High School and will attend the University of Cincinnati in the fall.
Shayla graduated from Gilbert A. Dater High School on May 22. She plans to pursue a career in nursing this fall at Cincinnati State Technical and Community College in hopes of someday working at Cincinnati Children’s. The 17-year-old has sickle cell anemia, a condition that causes her red blood cells to be misshapen which inhibits blood flow and can lead to pain and tissue damage.
“What I’ve enjoyed most while receiving care at Cincinnati Children’s is learning more each year about my disease and how modern science, technology and medicine coincides with treatment for us to become healthier,” Shayla said. Through it all, she has remained positive and optimistic with the love and support from her family, including her four brothers who she considers to be her “constant support team.”
Breanna graduated from Seton High School on May 28. She will attend Mount St. Joseph University this fall and plans to study nursing. Breanna is a patient in our cerebral palsy clinic and was also diagnosed with Chuvash polycythemia at the age of 11. This rare congenital disorder is characterized by an elevated production of red blood cells. As a result, Breanna must have her blood drawn every two weeks. She also takes an iron supplement to prevent anemia and a blood thinner to prevent blood clots.
“This disease has not stopped me from doing anything,” Breanna said. She thanked her family for their support as well as Cincinnati Children’s doctors and nurses for being there with her every step of the way. Breanna added that she is grateful to have the hospital so close to home and said she was inspired to pursue a degree in nursing because of the great care she’s received here.
Kaleb and Kameron Kinebrew
Kaleb and Kameron graduated from Colerain High School on May 29. The twin brothers will attend the University of Cincinnati this fall and will likely pursue degrees in business. For more than 17 years the boys have received care at Cincinnati Children’s for sickle cell disease and complications of the condition. Kaleb has migraines and back spasms. Kameron deals with chronic pain and has also had sinus surgery. Through the inpatient stays and outpatient clinic visits, Kameron and Kaleb persevered to graduate with Cum Laude honors and say they are stronger people because of their experiences.
“We know we can accomplish anything if we put our mind to it,” the twins said. “Over the past 17 years we have been blessed. We have various medical issues, some of them very serious, and with every visit we knew someone was working on our behalf to help us recover. We have seen a lot of specialists to help us deal with the complications of sickle cell. The hospital has a great staff and the environment here is great for kids and teens to get better.”
Rebecca will graduate from Oak Hills High School on June 6. This fall she plans to attend Ohio University to pursue her Bachelor of Science in Exercise Physiology. Rebecca is graduating with honors in the top 10 percent of her senior class. She’s been a Cincinnati Children’s patient over a number of years for conditions including complete tracheal rings, atrial septal defects (ASD), and migraine headaches.
“I have been treated at Children’s as long as I can remember, but every time I go back my care team remembers me and my story, and they know how to make me feel at home and reassure me that I am in great hands,” she said. Rebecca’s experience has driven her to seek a career in the medical field and she hopes to attend graduate school for physical therapy after completing her bachelor’s degree.
Editor’s Note: We know many more of our patients will also reach a graduation milestone this year and it would be impossible for us to feature all of them. If you know a patient who is graduating this year you are welcome to post your congratulations in the comments below (please use first name only) and know that we also congratulate each of them on their achievement!