Senior nursing student Jenna Rapach, from Hazleton, Pennsylvania, was recently interviewed by the “Get To Know A Cougar” team on campus. [watch video] Rapach spoke frankly about being diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease called Myasthenia Gravis just two years ago–in the midst of the COVID-19 Pandemic. As Rapach explains, the little-known disease affects fewer than 200,000 people per year and makes it very difficult to manage everyday activities, such as swallowing food, being able to see clearly, and walking to and from places.
Although it has not been easy to cope with the long-term effects of this debilitating disease, Rapach has remained resilient in the face of hardship. Something that kept her feeling positive throughout her diagnosis was her love for bowling. Rapach has not only played for Caldwell’s bowling team for several years now, but also grew up watching three generations in her family bowl. Rapach was sure that she wanted to bowl competitively in college, but also understood that the nursing curriculum makes it challenging for students to juggle sports and academics. Nonetheless, Rapach chose to attend the University and joined the bowling team thereafter.
When Rapach was asked, “what stood out to you about the school?” she replied, “what stood out to me was the nursing faculty.” Rapach recalled how elated she felt to learn that she could pursue both nursing and bowling at Caldwell. Since then, Rapach has played for the bowling team while studying to become a nurse. Rapach’s diagnosis has impacted her physical abilities, but it gave her “a new viewing on life.”
With medication, Rapach is now better able to cope with the symptoms and continues to defy the odds. There is no cure for Myasthenia Gravis, but Rapach is determined that “it’s possible for anybody to still follow their dreams” even in the event of different challenges in life. Faculty, friends, and members of the bowling team have supported Rapach throughout her journey with this disease and will continue to support her in her future endeavors. After graduating this Spring, Rapach will decide where she wants to pursue a graduate degree.