Winona State University student Christina Bokusky has already spent more days of her life in a hospital than she’d care to, but her personal experiences with illness have only served to reinforce her passion and belief in the healthcare industry.
During her first year of college, Bokusky began coughing up blood and was diagnosed her with catamenial hemoptysis, a rare condition that causes bleeding in the lungs. Another scare led doctors to discover Bokusky also had epilepsy and cortical dysplasia, a congenital abnormality that is a frequent cause of epilepsy in adults.
Bokusky said she realized the severity of her diagnoses when she was given some advice two summers ago.
“I was told that it would be a good idea for me to write my living will,” Bokusky said. “I was thinking to myself, ‘you have GOT to be kidding me…’ I was 19 years old at the time, and I couldn’t believe what I had just been told.”
Rather than dwell on the negative, Bokusky chooses to focus on the positive and live each day to the fullest.
“Here’s the thing: everybody dies at some point,” said Bokusky. “And no matter what I am going to live, whether it be in heaven or on earth. Although there are some really hard days, it is so important to stay positive, and in my opinion, have a strong faith in God.”
Throughout it all, the Buffalo, Minn., native has continued fighting and finding ways to succeed. When Bokusky found herself having difficulty processing and memorizing information due to her conditions, she worked with WSU’s Access Services, which assists students with disabilities as part of WSU’s Warrior Success Center.
She even managed to hold down jobs and internships while attending WSU, working at Fastenal and interning at Black River Memorial Hospital, Jackson in Action in Black River Falls, Wis., and at Mayo Clinic.
Bokusky will graduate this December from Winona State University with a degree in Communication Studies and a minor in Training and Development. She hopes someday to work in Mayo Clinic’s Continuing Medical Education Department and put her communications background to good use.
“The past two years of my life have been quite the living roller coaster. I have some really good days, but I also have some really bad days,” Bokusky said.
In the end, she finds herself eternally grateful for the support and guidance she received at WSU, specifically from faculty members Amy Hermodson and Kelly Herold, and Nancy Dumke, associate director of Access Services.
“If I hadn’t met these three when I attended WSU, I truly don’t know what I would have done,” Bokusky said. “All three of them will always have a very special place in my heart, and I will never forget how much they have done for me.”
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