Dear Scholarship Donor

It is with eyes full of tears and a heart full of gratitude that I write this letter.

I am a 35-year-old mom of two children, Jason and Jocelyn. When they were born, I was working while pursuing a degree in business administration. However, when my youngest was about six months old, I was taking her for a walk when my legs began to feel heavy and I fell. I began a two-year journey of testing and seeing specialists, with no answers until I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2012. I knew my children were growing up. They were so full of life and I felt like my life was being sucked from me one nerve cell at a time.

I continued with school, but I could not work anymore. Then, even with Social Security Disability Insurance, I could no longer afford school. My financial aid and loans had run out and, as I wasn’t working, my credit was not good enough to secure a private loan. My school could only offer a payment plan. I convinced myself that I didn’t need a degree because my life was now going to be centered around MS.

But I knew in my heart that I wanted that degree, and that I wanted to start a business from home that might possibly be a charity for people with disabilities due to autoimmune disease. So when I opened the letter yesterday saying I had been awarded a scholarship from the National MS Society, I nearly fell to the floor (and not because of a relapse!). If paper could talk, you would hear my screams of happiness. I want to share with my children that there are still amazing people in this world and that their mom just encountered some of that greatness. I have such joy and hope in my heart right now because getting my degree was something I didn’t think was possible and now, because of you, it is possible.

With the biggest heart, I thank you.
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Sydonnie

Sydonnie McMillian

Sydonnie McMillian lives in Jersey City, New Jersey.

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    47 Comments

  • Avatar
    sheribadzik  Jun 14, 2016 12:54 PM
    Good for you!! I am 62 and only learned I have MS a couple of years ago. They now believe I was born with it. It took a great neurologist and eye doctor to put the pieces together. Wishing you all the success you so deserve!!
  • Daniel   Jun 14, 2016 2:12 PM
    Dear Sydonnie McMillian..after have read your story.. i can advise you that a possitive mind besides a medicated responsable behavier for yourself is the only think that u need for survive and go beyond everything...life is great, think that..and plus the love for children and love of God combined ..makes it perfect.
  • Jocelyn Blum   Jun 14, 2016 2:21 PM
    I am so pleased to hear your encouraging news. I wish you well in making the effort to help your children's future. I was diagnosed at age 69 in 2011.
  • Dolores   Jun 14, 2016 2:49 PM
    WOW, wonderful to read...gives me hope... Thank you
  • Linda L Halvotson   Jun 14, 2016 3:09 PM
    CongratuLatinos! I was diagnosed in 1976. In 63 now and have done well despite living with it years before new Meds. Education will serve you well especially the degree you are pursuing. Good luck.
  • Avatar
    SmartyPants  Jun 14, 2016 5:21 PM
    Sometimes all we have to do is ask, May you enjoy school and the chance to start your business, who knows you could turn around and help someone else down the road. I worked in service to people with disabilitie for 35 years and then was diagnoised with MS after six years of being misdiagnoised. I had to give up my lifes work but I soon started writing novels. And who better to be disabled than someone who knew how the systems worked and how life can be just as fulfilling even with MS. I live with MS but it's at the back of my mind, life is good with or without MS. Keep your spirits up and who knows all you can become. Good luck.
  • Maria Wieand   Jun 14, 2016 8:34 PM
    Congratulations, I know first hand how crucial money problems can be. I'm so glad to know the National MS Society was able to grant you a scholarship. I've had MS since 2001 and I have participated in the Walk MS every year since then accept for 2015. This makes me smile to know the money we raise helps our own MS Warriors complete their dreams.
  • Avatar
    teeter1122  Jun 14, 2016 10:16 PM
    Awesome! Congratulations.
  • Peris   Jun 15, 2016 2:51 AM
    Congratulations. All the best, your story is an encouragement
  • Saadia Mughal   Jun 15, 2016 11:35 AM
    I hope you will get your degree and work too.For your children.I am from Pakistan got MS in 1992.Became a Medical Doctor after siagnosis.Wasnt able to practice but living good life with my mother.Good Luck to you.
  • Dominick Smith   Jun 15, 2016 10:57 PM
    Wow it's great that you're doing good I also have MS and I'm pushing through it but my tremors are stopping me from doing everything I'm still up trying to write and still trying to take my classes even if I have to do them online I am 21 years old I found out about me having MS once I graduated high school
  • K. Robinson   Jun 16, 2016 5:46 AM
    Congratulations! I am happy to see a fellow MS'er moving forward with their goals despite their diagnosis. I was diagnosed in 2005 at the age of 30. My refusal of treatment for 2 1/2 years caused me a great set back. But now with my medicine regiment I am coping well. Stay positive and trust God. You will make it.
  • Patty Worthem   Jun 16, 2016 8:53 AM
    Sydonnie, CONGRATULATIONS! i am very happy for you!!!
    Patty
  • Gwendolyn Scott   Jun 16, 2016 9:47 AM
    Sydonnie, Good for you and I am so glad you shared your story. I pray you will be successful and accomplish your goals. I was in grad school, but because of a exasperation, I had to stop. That didn't end my pursuit. I was in theology school and now, I am able to minister in church. At times, I feel as though, I will eventually complete my masters degree. Your story is so inspiring! Generally, I just read the stories without commenting, but your story is encouraging and I have two sons and a husband who fight along with me. Much success!
  • Jennifer Johnson   Jun 16, 2016 10:03 AM
    I am so glad to hear your story! I am 41yrs old and was diagnosed in 2001. I too was in college and was getting the symptoms, but like you I was determined to get my BS which I did along with a great job. So just keep doing what you're doing. I know it will get better :o)
  • Angela Bacon   Jun 16, 2016 10:20 AM
    Congratulations on continuing your degree and I'm so glad the MS Society granted you the scholarship. Education is so important. I was diagnosed with MS at age 50 I'm now 61 and I have not let MS stop me from doing what I want to do. Remember to keep faith and stay strong for you children. I wish you success and you are an inspiration to your children.

    God Bless you
  • meryl   Jun 16, 2016 2:28 PM
    Sydonnie, as part of the NJ scholarship committee thank you for your letter. I'm so happy that things worked out for you and that we were able to help. Please stay in touch so we hear how you are doing! Congratulations and best of luck!
  • Sandee   Jun 16, 2016 3:10 PM
    Good for you! Your kids need your good example, and who knows what the future holds.
    (I've had M.S. since 1993, and still get good and bad surprises.)
  • Mary Dewey   Jun 16, 2016 3:41 PM
    Bravo to you, Sydonnie......dont give up. You will find a way to make this happen and your children will be amazingly proud of you. My daughter is also a recipient of an MS scholarship. She has lived with my MS since she was 6; she is now a freshman in college. Watching me persevere and continue to fight has given her compassion beyond her years and a valuable life lesson.
  • deborah   Jun 16, 2016 3:50 PM
    congratulations
  • DeeDee   Jun 16, 2016 4:06 PM
    Congratulations to you
  • Stephanie Reed   Jun 17, 2016 12:50 AM
    Congratulations Sydonnie. I'm new to MS and the MS community. I love the support, examples, stories, and helpful advise and guidance I have received to far. Your story really helped me come up with the decision to go back to school and finish my Master's Degree in Business Management. Thank you so much. I pray God blessings over you as you prosper and grow..

    Kind Regards,

    Stephanie Reed
  • Gloria Brooks   Jun 17, 2016 1:02 PM
    Sydonnie,

    What a great story, I am so happy for you. Best wishes!
  • Sue   Jun 18, 2016 9:39 AM
    Hello, I have read a lot about the ms but yours is the first blog that I have found. You are obviously going to be one of the amazing people in this world. I am 68, diagnosed at 30. Good luck with your degree and my motto is "it always gets better" I have believed that the whole time and although although I am no longer working or walking there are still a lot of joys and goals in life. Well done
  • Wydia   Jun 18, 2016 3:58 PM
    That's what's up! CONGRATULATIONS!!! You seem like a driven person and I hope you reach the HIGHEST success.
  • Crystal Millien   Jun 19, 2016 6:46 AM
    😳😩 I'm afraid I might have MS
  • shebeephil   Jun 19, 2016 9:25 PM
    Good luck to you and congratulations never let MS stop you, there may be bumps in the road but keep going. I have been living with it for 14 years now.
  • Donna buggy   Jun 21, 2016 2:45 AM
    This story gave me hope. I am an. R.N. and need to get my BS To possibly go back to work. Reading this gave me the idea that I too could overcome any hurdles I might face.
  • Mike Pawelczak   Jun 21, 2016 8:09 AM
    What a heartwarming story. I commend you on your perseverance. I've been living with MS for over 34 years and am about to retire. I admire the way you manage your MS and do NOT let it define you. Good Luck in your studies.
  • mhill2924  Jun 22, 2016 1:55 PM
    Congratulations! I am so happy for you! Enjoy & work hard while taking good care of YOU
  • Pamela Nesmith   Jun 23, 2016 10:11 PM
    So happy for you!! I'm glad you followed your heart. I am truly proud of all you are doing. Remember: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
    Love ya😘
  • Stephanie Valerio   Jun 23, 2016 11:31 PM
    I am so proud of you honey!!! You did it and I am beyond happy for you 😘. God is good all the time!!! I love you and I wish you all the best in every endeavor.
  • Avatar
    job31010  Jun 23, 2016 11:37 PM
    I just wanted to give a big thank you to all of you for your kind words and well wishes. I feel so blessed and I wish all of you the best as well . Nowhere but "UP" from here 😘😘😘😘😘😘💙💜
  • Junon   Jun 24, 2016 6:56 PM
    Congratulations! Continue fighting. So proud of you.
  • Robert Boyles   Jun 28, 2016 8:12 AM
    Congratulations Sydonnie. Even though I do not have MS, my wife and I work very closely with out southeast Michigan organization. We offer our photographic business to them free for their walks, awards and dinners.
    Even though I do not have MS I do live with pain everyday. I have fibromyalgia and know what it is like for you. However, I wanted to pursue a photography business which I knew would be long hours and on my feet. Even with the mess I hurt, but I worked through it as you did to achieve a goal. It is that wanting of something special to us that I think makes all things possible
    You might want to take a look at our charity web page at www.bomophoto.com and just see what we do all for free to help different non-profit charities.
    Again, congratulations for getting your degree and sharing your story.
    My warmest regards,
    Bob Boyles
    Owner - BoMo PhotoL.L.C.
    WWW.BOMOPHOTO.COM
  • Robert Boyles   Jun 28, 2016 8:12 AM
    Congratulations Sydonnie. Even though I do not have MS, my wife and I work very closely with out southeast Michigan organization. We offer our photographic business to them free for their walks, awards and dinners.
    Even though I do not have MS I do live with pain everyday. I have fibromyalgia and know what it is like for you. However, I wanted to pursue a photography business which I knew would be long hours and on my feet. Even with the mess I hurt, but I worked through it as you did to achieve a goal. It is that wanting of something special to us that I think makes all things possible
    You might want to take a look at our charity web page at www.bomophoto.com and just see what we do all for free to help different non-profit charities.
    Again, congratulations for getting your degree and sharing your story.
    My warmest regards,
    Bob Boyles
    Owner - BoMo PhotoL.L.C.
    WWW.BOMOPHOTO.COM
  • suzy   Jun 28, 2016 9:16 AM
    So pleased to hear you got your grant and will now get your degree. My friend Joyce had to give up work due to 2nd stage MS it's hard for her but she hasn't given up on life full make up nails painted she's single by the way so has the time. She takes it one day at a time some are worse than others. She was diagnosed 13 yrs ago. So if she can do it so can you. Suzy x
  • Mark   Jun 29, 2016 9:02 AM
    Both my sister and I have MS. Several years ago my family and I donated our blood on several occasions to Dr Hauser and his staff at UCSF, Never even received a thank you or what were his research plans were, Now he is in the news for his new MS treatment, When I tried to arrange an appointment to see him, his office told me that I would have to pay $900 up front,
  • Avatar
    kkrumnow  Jul 5, 2016 6:18 PM
    Congratulations for being able to focus on on YOU!!
  • Nancy   Jul 20, 2016 12:59 AM
    Congratulations! Keeping that brain active is wonderful and surely two young kids want to always go. I admired your story. I'm 52, dx in 2013. I was a nurse for 25 years . I was forced to retire. I have not been myself since. I hope you finish your schooling . It may be hard but so worth it.
  • Cynthia   Aug 18, 2016 9:07 PM
    Children will keep you going. Stay in there and climb this mountain, there will be a pot of gold at the top. I've never met anyone else diagnosed with MS. They say to walk... walk, walk. Maybe it gets easier. N
  • Avatar
    adillon845  Aug 19, 2016 8:53 PM
    Sydonnie I am so happy for you - you deserve this scholarship! I wish you much luck and success in your family's future, Congratulations!
  • trisha varma   Sep 14, 2016 2:33 AM
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  • Nancy   Oct 11, 2016 1:50 PM
    Congratulations! I know how hard it is, especially with young children. I pray that you will finish your schooling. I had to quit my nursing career after 30years and I'm still so sad about it, even after two years. So pursue yours with every ounce of energy you have. You'll be so happy that you did. Be strong and be well!
  • Avatar
    Hardtimez95  Nov 15, 2016 12:13 PM
    So happy you received assistance with being able to continue your education! Never give up! Every new day is a blessing.
    Blessed 100%
  • katvilc  May 4, 2017 10:49 AM
    Sydonnie McMillian you have a very powerful story. your determination will be key in your success. Prayers to you and your wonderful family.
  • Francie Fortewu   Feb 21, 2019 5:42 PM
    I’m extremely thankful for this organization’s objective to fulfill the goals and dreams of individuals whose lives have been affected by this horrendous disease. May God bless all the receipents who have been successful. I’m ecstatic for you! Remember you have MS , it doesn’t have you! Go get your degree girl!!!!

    Is there only one award for MS given out annually? Are there other programs to benefit college age children whose parents are affected by MS and can no longer work to support them financially in college.