Overview of Me
I’m Jen, age 23, and from Illinois. I’m currently a first year graduate student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where I’m pursuing a Masters in speech-language pathology. I recently (as of May 2020) graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater with a B.S. in communication sciences and disorders.
When I was 13 years old, I was diagnosed with Transverse Myelitis, which is a rare neuroimmune disorder that damaged my spinal cord. Because of this, I have a lasting physical disability involving muscle weakness, partial paralysis, and chronic neuropathic pain (and fatigue). However, I am fortunate to be in graduate school pursuing the dream I’ve had since I was a little kid!
About my writing:
I have enjoyed writing my entire life. Ever since I first learned the alphabet, I’ve been writing and making up my own stories. English quickly became my favorite subject in school, and in third grade, I wrote and published a picture book (heavily edited and guided by my dad) called Benny The Runt Banana. All through elementary and middle school, I was constantly writing; it was always such a large part of my identity.
After being paralyzed by Transverse Myelitis just before eighth grade, I was afraid that my years of writing were over. But I regained enough function in my left hand to handwrite (fun fact, though: I was born dominantly right handed) and enough general hand function to type, so those worries were short-lived!
In July of 2013 I finished writing and publishing a book called 5k, Ballet, and a Spinal Cord Injury with my friend Sarah Todd Hammer, which is about our journeys with our disabilities. This was followed by a sequel entitled Determination in August 2016, and then Up and Down in October 2018, the third and final book in our trilogy.
Over the years, I have written many different stories and poems, and in 2013 I decided to start a blog to keep and showcase my “best” work. I initially started this as more of a digital journal for myself, but I also like the idea of putting my thoughts out there, especially in regards to disability because there is such a lack of that representation.
Personally, when it comes to art, I say to just create the content that you want to see!
What else do I do with my life?
When I was younger (even when I first started this blog), I knew that I was two things: writer and runner. I’m still a writer, of course, but I can no longer physically run. However, I do have other hobbies as well, such as singing and swimming. I am also pretty obsessed with musical theatre, my favorite shows being Les Miserables and Next to Normal.
Writing is still one of my biggest passions, and I hope you enjoy my work (terrible, cringy stuff and all)!
(This blog originated on Weebly, but I moved everything here a couple years ago!)