Baylee Blackburn – Humans of UofL

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    image-1I grew up in the amazing town of Paducah in western Kentucky. Paducah has been wonderful to me. All my life I had the dream of going to University of Louisville to pursue a degree in biology and move on to dental school and hopefully work towards being an orthodontist. What really drove me was spending time in El Salvador with Sus Hijos and seeing all the poverty and hunger there. I knew I needed to do something about it. I knew I wanted to be a doctor and, like I said, had always been interested in dentistry but didn’t know if it would be for me, or if was going to be too hard. I ended up shadowing a few orthodontists in image-4my hometown and instantly fell in love. I applied to the ULead program that next week. As soon as I graduate college I want to send the biggest check to Kurt, the founder of Sus Hijos who provides jobs and shelter to orphans who turn 18 and are kicked out of the orphanage to be left on the streets, feeds the homeless, builds houses for the poor, and is just an all around amazing person. He does so much for others and I know I will be able to do this for him once I’m on my feet.

    All my dreams suddenly came crashing down on April 23, 2013. I got into a wreck… Tboned by an Ford F-150 going approximately 55 mph. I was rushed to the hospital. I was okay from the wreck but they found a tumor in my brain. I lost my best friend to a brain tumor and I thought I was done for. That next week I got my acceptance letter to Louisville along with a scholarship for all four years, as well as, an acceptance letter to the ULead program to begin my dental studies during my undergrad schooling. I sat in my room and cried after checking the “decline” option and sending it off. All my hopes and dreams, and I just declined them. baylee_hospitalThat June I had brain surgery to remove the mass. It ended up being a Cavernous Angioma rather than a tumor. The good news is it was benign, the bad news is they grow back. And if they rupture, I have a very high risk of death. Still recovering when school started in the fall, I started my further education at West Kentcuky Community and Technical College. I spent two years here, with the hopes of still following my dream to be an orthodontist.

    In 2015, I packed up and moved of to UofL. I faced the hardest semesters I have ever taken in this past year and I am so thankful for them. This is everything I have wanted. They found another mass on my spleen in December, which causes me discomfort and some sharp pains. We are watching it for now but seems okay. After my surgery, my personality has changed. I get worked up by the smallest things, like if someone is breathing too loud, I know I sound crazy, but I have learned and am still learning to deal with it. 

    I no longer have any scholarships and I am scared for my life I won’t get into the dental school since I no longer have the guaranteed entry I would have had with ULead. I am working my butt off to keep great grades and learn everything I can. It’s hard working 40+ hours a week on top of 16+ Credit hours of school a semester. But it will all be worth it. God will take me where I am suppose to go. There is a reason for everything, and I can only work hard and pray God is taking me on the path I have always dreamed of. Thank you Louisville for the amazing opportunities. I pray I am here for many more years furthering my education. And I pray one day, I can give back. 

    I’ve realized life is literally like the game of life. We all have big goals and plans, and sometimes we find ourselves in a hard place, or sent all the way back to start. Some will reach their goals quicker than others, and it might seem easy to just quit at times, but if you keep playing, and keep working hard, you will finish and you will do whatever you set your mind to.