Student Leadership and Multiple Sclerosis

Written by on November 12th, 2013 – 4 Comments

A big part of who I am is the fact that I am a university student. Especially since I live on residence, work three different positions on campus and I’m a full-time student, my university career is my entire life. I even want to work in higher education when I’m older.

However, at the beginning of my journey of living with MS, I didn’t know if that was in the cards for me. I knew I had to avoid stress, but I live off being busy. I call myself a professional busy bee. So how was I supposed to avoid stress, while maintaining the lifestyle I loved and thrived off of?

My philosophy on student leadership needed to be change. Now it is one that has been touted by many: You’re a person first, a student second, and a leader after. I can only be a student leader, and involved in so many things if I’m a student, and I’m putting my academics first. So that needs to be the focus after I’m making sure to take care of myself.

In terms of academics, I had a much needed shift in my thinking about my priorities. I actually read a recent article about how higher education may actually help protect against long term side effects of MS!

So with that in mind, and my new philosophy on involvement, I decided to scale back a bit on some responsibilities I had (hard to believe that I used to be busier than I already am), and I needed to take more time for myself.

Practicing self-care is important for everybody, especially students. Especially those with MS. Especially student leaders with MS. For me, stress is a major trigger for relapses, so trying to manage and avoid stress is priority number one.

I am passionate about student leadership and community. Instead of being held back by MS, I instead just rethought my philosophy on student involvement, and it actually opened my mind to a whole new field. Living as a student with disability, I realize that I can help show what great resources are offered to students, and as a student leader I have that platform.

I can advocate for support for students with MS and other disabilities, I can help ensure accessibility is a consideration in all areas of student life, and I can tell my story as a student leader living with MS.

Getting my priorities straight, managing my stress and realizing that my passions don’t have to be inhibited by MS but rather they can be reinforced are all part of why I am still thriving in university, in my academics, social life and leadership positions.

Are you a student or a leader living with MS? How do you deal with it? Leave your ideas down below as a comment!


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4 Responses

  1. Footsteps says:

    Congratulations! You are learning a lesson now that I am only just learning about 12years after being diagnosed. It is so important! You will inspire so many!

  2. thefloweryhipster says:

    I love this.

    First and foremost, congratulations, as a former student leader myself I completely understand what you’re going through. To be honest, only student leaders really know the world of student leaders – it’s hard to describe the many hats we wear.

    I feel personally draw to this post – I was in my final year as a student and VP when I lost my vision to Optic Neuritis, just two weeks after defending my thesis. You’re absolutely right, self-care is essential and minimising stress-levels is not only crucial to your health but to you success as a student, a leader and as a person. As an emotional person myself, I felt the pressure of student leadership life in many ways, most noticeably my mental health. I’m proud to say however that I sought out my resources and put my pride to the side; realising that I could be effective in my job if I didn’t take care of me first. By the end of my term I became a sticky note queen, making lists, setting goals and living by the mantra “When you say NO, your YES means more”. That one phrase allowed me to stand firm in my decisions and kept me balanced and consistent.

    Thank you for taking the time to write this, I’m inspired by you and I can’t wait to hear more!!

  3. Lioncoeur says:

    Thank you! I love that phrase “When you say NO, your YES means more.” Super helpful, and that speaks to me alot.

    Thanks for sharing 😀