HIV Disabled At Birth Michelle Seeks Disability Grants To Graduate College
by Michelle Frank
(Cincinnati, Ohio, USA)
Hello! My name is Michelle and I am a 27-year-old college senior with one semester left to graduation. My family includes 3 sisters, 2 brothers and my mother.
1st Graduation Kindergarten
One brother and one sister are my mother's biological children, the other four of us she adopted when she should have been planning her retirement.
We all live within 140 miles of each other in Ohio and even though my mother is now past 80 years old, her passion for children's rights and needs continues through her work as a child advocate.
Yes, she still works 18 hours a week, keeps house and guides my 20-year-old disabled brother towards becoming a productive member of society.
Two of my siblings are African-American, one bi-racial and two Caucasian. Our family truly represents inclusion and diversity and we have all grown tremendously from and with it.
The early years of my life were spent in foster care placements, at other times with relatives. Finally at the age of 4, my last foster mother became my "forever mother." My biological parents were Haitian and unable to take care of me.
There have been many challenges in life for me but I have vowed never to give in. Challenges most often present opportunities that provide solutions and many times guide us in another, better direction in our lives.
This has proven true for me many, many times. My immediate goal now is to graduate college and join the American Work Force.
I was born with a chronic, incurable disease, AIDS, passed on to me by my biological mother. This has been a continuous challenge not only for me but also for my family.
At birth my life expectancy was less than 2 years. For 7 years much of my medical care was at the National Institutes of Health and a long list of specialist doctors, who, when they saw me would say, "here comes my miracle girl!"
On many occasions I was one of the first participants in research protocols. I like to believe I was helpful in the development of medications that today allow us to live much longer.
The downside to that is that I must always be aware and informed of research and development of any new medications, anticipating the time my current ones might no longer be affective.
My disease has put many limitations on me but I refuse to give up. My first grade of school I could only physically attend half time but managed to keep up with the class with the help of a very supportive school system and my mother.
As I grew my school time became shorter and shorter and when I reached high school it was down to about 3 months. The remainder was hospital/home bound time.
It took 6 years for me to finish but I received my diploma on October 16, 2007.
My family moved to another state in 2008. I lived at home and worked a part-time job until I could enroll in a community college in the area in the fall of 2009.
I was graduated December 16, 2011 with a GPA of 3.1 of a possible 4.0. With my current enrollment, I will graduate in May 2016 with an Associate of Applied Science – Medical. I will continue until I get my degree, whatever that takes.Financial Hardship
I have worked tirelessly to not graduate with a huge debt. In the past I have worked part time to cover most of my living expenses and to save enough to continue with school.
Study Time -- Hospital/Homebound
I receive Social Security Disability, which will allow me to work a limited amount of time, but at the present time I am unable to do so and attend school.
My insurance is through the state with a co-pay that on occasion has been $67 for one doctor visit. The co-pay for medications depends on the medication and can be astronomical.
I am struggling to just meet the very basics of medical, food, shelter, transportation and school.
My car is 13 years old and needs attention. It provides transportation back and forth to school and to my doctors.
I try to see my mother once a quarter, which is a 270-mile round trip. She will pay for my gas to visit her when she can.
One of the specialists I have to see is a 140-mile round trip. I try to schedule one of my doctor visits with a visit to my mother, which then cuts the total mileage by 110 miles.
I owe on my car and have to provide insurance on it.
Grants and family supports have helped me with school expenses but some school grants stop at age 25.
My mother lives on Social Security and a small part-time job and is no longer in a position to provide financial support. She is my "rock" and I cannot ask her for more than that now.Income Efforts
I have continuously worked part time when I have been able and receive $645 a month Social Security Disability.
Most of my school tuition and books have been paid for by grants and scholarships.
Until I moved to attend college I lived at home and my family supported me.
I am always searching for ways to fund my education without taking out loans.
Two of my siblings are either in school or will attend next year so family support is now very limited.
The school will assist with my job search upon graduation.Specific Needs
I need financial help to finish my last semester of college.
My car is 13 years old and in good condition. If kept in good condition, it will last me another 2 to 3 years after graduation. It needs a tune-up, tires and winterization. I owe 4 more payments on it and have a monthly charge for the insurance on it.
It will take $5,000 to complete my education and help me meet my necessary living expenses of medication, shelter, food and transportation.
At birth it appeared I had no real, long-term future, but I do now and I want to use it wisely, enjoy life a lot, have a family and make a contribution for the time I am here.
Any support I receive will go far beyond "appreciation." Thank you!