CHANGING PERCEPTIONS

As Prehn has overcome her own insecurities,

she wants to use her experience to prove that those who use wheelchairs are unstoppable.

“I feel like people don’t expect much from people in wheelchairs, and I want to get them to see the bigger picture,” she says.

“What I want to change is for people to see that we are beautiful inside and out, and we can do just as much. We can be nurses, we can be models, we can be scientists.

There really is no difference other than the physical aspect of having to use a wheelchair.”

Prehn has learned to advocate for herself as she chases her goals.

“I know there will have to be adaptations or accommodations that will have to be made for me,

but it’s up to me to ask for them or do things to get where I want to be,” she explains. “No one else will do that for me.”

As she pursues her dream to become a nurse, she has done just that. While she’s been applying to nursing schools, she’s asked about the adaptations that would be needed.

 (The answer is practically nothing – potentially just a wheelchair that stands up to put her at eye-level with patients,

and additional help with lifting patients and pushing those in wheelchairs.)

 She has completed a medical assistant program to get real-life experience in a clinical setting,

and she has connected with other medical professionals in wheelchairs.

In fact, it was her experience of her injury that put her on the path to a nursing profession.

“A nurse to me was my hero, my sister, my family,” she says of her time in the hospital after the accident.

“They brought a lot of light into my life when it was really sad and difficult to deal with, and I want to do the same.”

She hopes to use her story to inspire patients dealing with all sorts of life-altering injuries and illnesses.

 “I want to show people, no matter what medical issue they have, that they shouldn’t give up,” she says.

“And that can start with the people in the hospital that are taking care of you, that have a good attitude and a good outlook on life.Those kinds of people bring you out of the darkness.”

Her positive attitude will be a benefit to her patients, and it also continues to push her forward, allowing nothing to stand in her way.

 For example, in her junior year of college, she went skiing, using a mono-ski to slice down the mountain and experiencing the thrill of a sport she “never thought would be possible.”

She is committed to following her dreams.

“Do not allow negative people to scare you away from wanting to accomplish your goals,” Prehn advises.

“I want people and, more specifically, Alpha Chis, to realize how amazing they are and how endless the possibilities are if only they allow themselves the chance..

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