About Me

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.

the first two books
Sarah Todd and I. (Credit: Danielle in Chicago for Flytographer)

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!)