31 Days of SMA: Surviving Law School While Grappling With Illness

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by BNS Staff |

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(Photo courtesy of Shaniqua Granby)

Day 1 of 31

This is Shaniqua Granby’s (@shaniqua__niqua) story:

A few people have said to me, “You know, Shaniqua, it’s so cool that you are an attorney,” and while I do believe I accomplished a fantastic objective in my life, they may not understand what it took to get to the other side, nor do I think some of them care. However, I must tell my story to those willing to listen.

Law school was a defining moment in my life as it was a time when my limits as an individual with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) Type 3 were tested. My previous accolades didn’t matter because when you begin law school — one of the most competitive institutions — every student has been deemed intelligent. Law school was and still is all about survival.

During law school, I became weak. On one occasion I had a complex migraine, and on another, a virus. Physically and mentally, I was tired. I continuously fell and could not get up on my own, yet I was determined and persistent in obtaining my law degree.

So how was I going to make it through law school knowing that I needed to stay up long hours, reading and studying? I knew law school was difficult, but I didn’t expect it to take a toll on my health.

Thus, as the adventurous person that I am by attending a law school outside of my home state of Virginia, I relied on my grandmother and a close family friend, whom I consider a second mom and who lived in Durham, North Carolina, to help take care of my physical and health needs. My grandmother would travel from Virginia to wash my clothes, clean my apartment, help me shower and dress, take me grocery shopping, and more. Moreover, my family friend took me to church, brunch, and sometimes grocery shopping.

These two women were a tremendous support. I overcame my most significant challenge with their assistance, graduating in May 2019 with a law degree from the illustrious North Carolina Central University in Durham. Family is vital to me, and I need them to survive.

Last, I say this: Whether you have a disability like SMA or not, be kind to one another and treat one another with respect; you never know when you’ll need someone to lean on.

SMA News Today’s 31 Days of SMA campaign will publish one story per day for SMA Awareness Month in August. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more stories like this, using the hashtag #31DaysofSMA, or read the full series.