My Graduation Story

Lauren Rogulski

HOUSTON, TX-  Everyone has heard at some point in their life that things are not always fair. You may find that things may happen to you that you do not deserve. You may even experience unforeseen circumstances that altar the trajectory of your plans and find yourself in uncharted territory.

I can attest that I am one of the people that experienced the aforementioned cliches of life and more than likely rolled my eyes and thought “that wouldn’t happen to me.”

My original plan after high school was to attend Michigan State University like my Grandmother, Aunt and Cousins had before me. I wanted to be a Spartan so badly that I didn’t even apply to any other university. It was all or nothing for me. When I received my acceptance letter, I was elated. I felt my hard work had paid off and I swelled with unwavering confidence in my life’s plan.

Three years later at the end of my Junior year at MSU, I was diagnosed with Lyme Disease. I felt as if the rug had been pulled out from underneath me. I could no longer dismiss the debilitating symptoms that struck me with a vengeance.

At first, I was told that I would more than likely need only one semester off from school to undergo treatment and recover.

However, a semester turned into six years and thousands of dollars in medical bills.

Throughout this time, I was stunned by the negativity I received from numerous people. For example, I was told many times how “dropping out of college” was the worst decision I had made and therefor had ruined my life. Many people looked down on me and considered me less than for not having a degree. Another repeating theme I encountered was “the longer you wait to go back, the less likely it will be that I ever graduate.” I would politely explain that I did not have an identity crisis and needed to backpack through Europe to find myself, I was battling a serious illness. Where was the empathy and encouragement?

Even though I constantly vowed I would one day return to college and graduate, it was little reassurance to the naysayers who implied I was going to be just another statistic or cautionary tale.

I decided to harness the antagonism and develop a strategy that would work for me. Over time, and when I felt well enough, I took the required core classes that my credits from MSU did not fulfill. And here I am today. A member of the graduating class of 2021.