SUBWAY FEATURED STUDENT: ANNIKA CONN, MESILLA VALLEY
Annika Conn is a senior at Mesilla Valley Christian and copes with a condition not many high school athletes have to deal with. Annika has cystic fibrosis. It’s a disorder that affects her lungs, making it difficult to breathe. Despite this condition, Annika is an all-district volleyball player and active member of her school and community.
She first found out about her condition at the age of 5. “I was kind of confused about it,” Annika said. “At first I was discouraged, but then I realized that I just can’t be Eeyore about it. Life goes on and so do people. I know my limits, but I’m going to try.”
There is no known cure for cystic fibrosis, but Annika doesn’t let that slow her down.
“Cystic fibrosis is part of what makes me the person I am today,” she wrote for a college essay.
“I want to be an example and inspiration for others facing challenges with this disease or any other disease one may believe to hold them back. I want to constantly show people that disabilities don’t always mean you aren’t able to do or achieve something, but may mean that you have to work harder and longer to do it or achieve it.”
Annika says CF pushed her to stay involved, strengthen her character and helped her become driven in everything she does. “Without this disease, I would not be the strong, confident, positive person I am. Therefore, I own my CF, it does not own me.”
Annika is interested in studying nursing after high school. “CF sparked that interest in me, so we’ll see.”
Here is the full version of her personal essay on CF:
Cystic Fibrosis is part of what makes me the person I am today, but it does not define who I am. When I was younger, I was very discouraged by my disease and saw it as something that would always limit me and hold me back from reaching my full potential. However, my mentality completely changed once I reached high school. I no longer saw CF as something that restricted me from living a normal life, but instead something that motivated me to live a life that was normal at all for a CF patient. I became confident and proud in the person I was, and wanted to be an example and inspiration for others facing challenges with this disease or any other disease one may believe to hold them back. My lung doctor now uses my accomplishments to encourage new CF parents who fear their child’s future and capability to do certain activities. I want to constantly show people that disabilities don’t always mean you aren’t able to do or achieve something, but may mean that you have to work harder and longer to do it or achieve it. For example, before I set out to do something, I never knew if my lungs were physically going to allow me to complete the task, but I always knew that I was going to try. With this new mindset of mine, I became very involved physically in sports and socially through clubs and helping around my school. I became determined to never let CF stop me from setting out to reach my goals and being accomplished in my athletics and academics. As every year became more competitive and the competition got better within my athletics, my disease became more challenging. Yet, as a freshman, I played 3 Varsity sports, won All-District my junior year of volleyball, and won All-District for basketball my sophomore and junior year. I also had the honor of being nationally recognized and receiving Max Preps player of the week for basketball last year, all while maintaining a 4.0 GPA at a private school. Between doctor’s appointments, waking up at 5:30 am every day to do treatments before school, taking enzymes with every meal, difficulties breathing during athletics, life with Cystic Fibrosis has not been easy. Although this may be true, CF has also pushed me to stay involved, strengthened my character, and helped me become driven in all I do. Without this disease, I would not be the strong, confident, positive person I am. Therefore, I own my CF, it does not own me.