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August Coggins
Rebecca Agosta
UWRT 1103-007
24 September 2014

Literacy: In the Form of a Tragic Blessing

“Austin is having a seizure,” shouted my little brother through the dormant ears of my
parents. Half waking from a deep sleep, it took me a few moments to register what he actually
said. “Wake up Austin is having a seizure.” As much as I didn’t want it to be true, my hearing
served me right. Little did I know, the next five minutes would change my life in many ways. I
looked at my phone, 5:31. I watched my parents jump the stairs down to my brother’s room,
going straight for his seizing body. They were doing everything they could to hold his head and
get the blood out of his mouth, 5:32. My moms’ voice was echoing through my already ringing
brain as she frantically recited all the right information to the 911 dispatcher, 5:33. She shouted
at me to bring down my brothers insulin, 5:34. As I met my brothers empty lost eyes my heart
sunk and I knew something was terribly wrong. “He’s not breathing,” 5:35. I ran upstairs in
hysterics and refused to witness my brother in that state. I wanted nothing more than to erase that
image from my head. I lay back in bed, 5:36. A year ago, on September 16th my brother survived
his first seizure. Scared and hopeless our entire family had no idea why it happened or if it would
happen again.
Everyone has a monster under their bed. It might be a secret, a regret, a failure, or maybe
an illness. In my brothers case his is with him everywhere he goes. When he wakes up, when
he’s at school, when he works out, when he eats and when he goes to sleep. His never lets him

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feel normal or like he fits in. His monster reminds him
every day the slightest mistake could end his life. My
brothers’ monster is diabetes.
Replaying that morning continuous times in my
head, lead me to my career decision I once thought impossible to make. I was incredibly curious
as to what caused this to happen and if it was going to happen again. The scariest and most eyeopening experience of my life turned into a time that my curiosity took me somewhere I wasn’t
planning to go. With this came new literacies, literacy of his diabetes and literacy of my career
For as long as I can remember I always wanted to be a teacher. As a kid I would “teach”
to my class of dolls, spending hours in front of my mini
white board and devoted to reading them every book I
owned. While this seemed like just a phase, moving
into my high school career, I was still devoted to
becoming a teacher. I thought it was something I loved and something I would be good at. Yet
there was still something missing. I didn’t have a huge empowering passion for it, I wasn’t
intrigued to learn more about it and it just seemed like a safe route. It wasn’t until my brother
was diagnosed that I realized my true calling. I became so interested in the human body and how
it works. I was constantly researching and spending my free time learning more. It was then that
I realized that I wanted to spend my life in the medical field, forever expanding my knowledge of
medicine and anatomy. In turn I have gained a whole new literacy of this community.

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From then on as soon as I was curious about something I would search it and ask doctors
I knew. I would sit in front of my computer lost in research and learning so much about the
human body. The more I learned the more I was certain in my passion. Before I knew it I was
lining up volunteer opportunities at my local hospital, EMS and nursing homes, interviewing the
local OBGYN and consulting family nurses in pursuit to learn everything my brain could
possibly hold. As nerdy and

far-fetched as this sounds, I couldn’t help how

intrigued I was in the field and

how eager I was to expand my medical literacy. I

never really knew the precise

practice of medicine I wanted to study. That’s why I

spent my time researching and even interacting with so many different genres, if you will, of
As I asked simple, curious questions from nurses I learned so many little things no one
really thinks about. I asked general things like why does this happen, or how effective is this, or
because of this will this happen. Topics most people don’t think to ask and topics I was really
curious about and now I know more.
As I volunteered at the nursing home, it opened my eyes to the side of medicine people
tend to forget about. I experienced relationships with the patients and formed connections with
them I will never forget. In that aspect I was introduced to a sentimental and personal level of
practice that made those jobs worthwhile.
As I volunteered at the hospital I found my love for fast pace workspace and the thrill of
emergency situations. I was oddly calm and efficient in high stress situations as I watched things
play out. I was always asking questions and couldn’t seem to get enough of the intense
environment of the hospital.

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I had many interviews and phone calls with OBGYN’s, full of questions I had and
information I wanted to know. Of the fields I’ve dived into, this one was one of my favorites. I
am fascinated with the woman’s reproductive system, how everything works, and anything to do
with the life of an infant. I wanted to know everything from how it works, what can go wrong,
why certain things happen, how to help or prevent things from happening, and everything in
between. While I’m not 100% certain that’s what I want to do, it did seem to be the one I was
most interested in.
Lastly, with my senior year in high school coming to an end, I had to start putting some
thought into my graduation project. At my high school every senior is required to pick a topic
they can devote 15 or more hours of their time doing. You have to write a paper on the topic,
develop a research paper relating to something to do with the topic, create a product from your
topic, preform community service using the topic and lastly give a 8-12 minute presentation of
everything you went through during the project to a panel of judges. Well, with my love of all
things medicine skyrocketing at this point in my life, my choice in topic was quite obvious for
me, yet not obvious at all. While I knew I wanted to do something with my intended career path,
I had nothing specific in mind having such a broad topic idea. While my only real interest was to
expand my literacy of medicine and grow in that community even more, I eventually chose to do
my project with my local Emergency Medical Service.

Already having

experience with high stress situations, and falling in

love with it, I thought

it would be a perfect opportunity. I could devote more

of my time finding my

path in life and increasing my already growing knowledge. For 2 months I spent my time going
to the Henderson County EMS office, absorbing anything there is to know about their line of
work. I learned all their methods for high survival rates, I learned a few procedures and what

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works best in certain situations and I even learned a few skills such as CPR. Which is something
I went on to teach a class of elementary school teachers at the school nearby. I could not have
been more thankful for that opportunity and all the insight I gained from the project. It brought
be closer to making a decision about my career choice and it opened my eyes to so many more
All of these experiences, lessons, and new literacies came from one life changing instant
in my family’s life. I used that time of fear and confusion to grow as a person and make
something of the situation. I had no idea it would take me this far or lead me to such an impactful
outcome. Through concern, curiosity, and pure admiration for learning, I turned this awful
experience into one of the many tools I acquired to find my passion in life. My dream is to oneday use my knowledge, while continuing to obtain more, to help people just like my brother
work through their illness, if not overcome it. I want to make them completely aware of what
might be happening inside their body and give them support through their hard times. I want to
impact people’s life and give them a reason to fight. I not only want to change a life, I want to
save one. And when I do, the only thing I will have to thank for that, is my ever-growing

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