Spring 2018 has been an exceptionally busy time for National Ambassador Justin Moy. After being named 2018 MDA National Ambassador in March, Justin traveled to Japan with members of his school (with his MDA Camp Counselor serving as his care attendant). He also had several artistic endeavors this spring, exhibiting his artwork at a local art gallery, singing with his Youth Pro Musica chorus and performing in “Guys and Dolls” with his high school theater group. Justin also attended prom, took several AP exams and spent time fundraising for his MDA Muscle Walk team. All of this excitement culminated with his high school graduation this month. Justin aspires to become a researcher; he’s preparing now to head to college and major in bioinformatics and computational biology. He’s checking in with us today with a few thoughts on his next exciting chapter.
It’s the first week after my graduation and I already feel set adrift into the world of transient plans and superfluous free time. Being liberated from the regimented schedule of school, extracurriculars and homework, on top of doctors’ appointments and family obligations, is both a bane and a boon. I guess what I’m feeling is indicative of what many other recent high school graduates are feeling: How do you go out into the world and set your own schedule, your own path?
For the past 17 years of my life, I have always been scheduled, and even in my free time, I had a limited number of activities in which to partake. Now with my critical thinking skills and knowledge accumulated from my 13 years of public education, I feel like I can do anything.
With me describing all these feelings, you would think that I would be doing something super cool and interesting, but that is not the case. For the past week, I’ve been catching up on my sleep and stretching my back, neck and hands, as well as filling out the all of the tedious college forms. Senior summer is an exciting time for everyone, but along with that excitement comes the dread of transition.
In August I will be attending Worcester Polytechnic Institute, or WPI for short. With this step, I will be one step closer to achieving my dream of curing congenital muscular dystrophy, but before I can reach this dream, I have to make the small change of moving out of the house. I’ve been to Japan and China without my parents, but because those trips were through the school, the district provided me with a care assistant. Moving to college and out of the public school system will be a huge change, but luckily I have a supportive network of family and friends.
Through the special education department of my school, I was introduced to the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission, colloquially known as Mass Rehab. Prior to my senior year, I had never heard of Mass Rehab, but upon meeting with one of their agents, I was glad to have found them. They provide assistance with college housing and accommodations, with the ultimate goal of placing me in an occupation.
There are many resources out there like this for young adults who have neuromuscular disorders, including MDA (check out https://www.mda.org/young-adults to start). It all comes down to taking the initiative to find those resources.
In an email I received from WPI were the words, “We have found that students who are proactive … tend to be more successful in their transition to college life.” I wholeheartedly agree with this statement. Sometimes my mom states half-jokingly that she is my agent and manager, but going forward I will not always have my mom to help me. If you are in transition yourself, I implore you to be proactive, self-advocate and remember you have support. If you are helping someone in transition, give them a little space but be ready if they need your help.
Graduation to me is not just about looking to the future but also about remembering the love and support my friends, family and teachers have given me to get me where I am today. As I look to the future, I will certainly remember them as I reach every milestone in life.