Overcoming Adversity to Graduate

May 16, 2016

Jennifer Cosman Graduates

Commencement ceremonies are getting underway all across the country, and Bellus Academy has a graduate we couldn’t be more proud to celebrate!

When it comes to overcoming adversity, being open to change and channeling grit to move toward a goal, Jennifer Cosman is a testament to all three. Diagnosed as an adult with Stargardt disease, an inherited form of macular degeneration most often seen in juveniles, Jennifer found it hard to continue her work as an early childhood educator.

She’d always had an interest in holistic health and helping others feel better, so when a coworker mentioned she was going to massage therapy school, Jennifer decided to learn more. That’s when her eyes were opened to a new calling – massage therapy!

In fact, Jennifer learned that in ancient Eastern cultures, massage therapy was largely practiced by the visually impaired – seeing the emperor’s unclothed body could result in severe punishment.

Jennifer enrolled at Bellus Academy . . . and that was the easy part. Her journey toward completing the massage therapy program was not easy and involved plenty of tears and thoughts of abandoning the journey, but Jennifer and Bellus massage therapy instructor Brent Haney approached her goal relentlessly. For example:

  • Brent used a computer program to enlarge text and then held it at angles where Jennifer’s peripheral vision could still see the copy.
  • During muscle anatomy classroom training, Jennifer became the classroom model, sometimes replacing the muscle chart– she was able to feel and hear the muscle groups although she could not see the chart.
  • Bellus adapted schedules so Jennifer could catch the disability bus transportation and be home in time to meet her son when he got home from school.
  • Jennifer always remembered these words of advice from her retired military father: “Failure isn’t an option.”

Within a week of graduating, Jennifer accepted a job with a San Diego County chiropractic office and is using her skills to help others feel better. Congratulations, Jennifer! All of us at Bellus Academy are so proud of you!

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