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Lauren Apodaca didn’t let her Guillian-Barré syndrome, a rare disorder in which the immune system attacks the nerves, prevent her from returning to school.

To focus on her treatment, she had to postpone her studies after her freshman year at another university. “I basically had to learn to walk again. Needless to say, school was no longer an option for me”, said Lauren.

When her husband, a military officer, was stationed in New Mexico, she wanted to try to get back to school to get her mind off the difficulty of a long-distance relationship. She enrolled in online courses at another college, however, the school was not helpful. Defeated, she moved to New Mexico to be with her husband. There, she enrolled in New Mexico State University, but still didn’t get the right experience she was looking for. On top of that, she and her husband were expecting.

They quickly came up with a new plan to move back to Miami where they can be close to relatives and Lauren could have another try at school. “I knew I wanted to go back,” she said. “Although I was healing, it was hard to know whether things would get better or not. There’s just not that much research around it.”

FIU Online helps make a difference.

Lauren later reached out to FIU Online, and was impressed by the support she received from faculty. “They were really eager to get my studies back on track,” she said. She later enrolled in a program to study early childhood education, and earned her degree in 2017.

“My whole life people said I’d be a teacher, so I decided to just trust them.”

Lauren Apodaca

Lauren has just completed her first year teaching the fifth grade. She mentioned how she loves teaching, and that FIU Online faculty really helped her understand how to run a classroom. Because of her dedication and inspiration to others, Lauren was recently recognized by the Florida Board of Governors as an Exemplary Online Student. Congratulations, Lauren!

Read more about Lauren’s inspiring story towards earning a degree on FIUOnline.com.