LANCASTER – Raenell Weatherspoon is in the midst of defining her personal journey. Born with a degenerative eye disease, the mother of six young girls eventually lost 100% of her eyesight but never lost her vision for success.
Instead, she decided to be an example for her children and focus on her new sense of responsibility.
“Disability is not defined as a burden, it can be whatever you make it,” Raenell said.
Raenell is now a massage therapy student at University of Antelope Valley, and she’s completing her externship at Haddad Chiropractic in Lancaster.
“When she initially toured the UAV campus, I told Raenell that I would be up for the challenge and honored to teach her, and it has been a joy,” said UAV Lead Massage Therapy Instructor Kim Blunt. “Raenell has a gentle healing touch and it was no surprise when she revealed to me that she had always wanted to be a massage therapist. She has made such a positive impact on each of the students, and they see that she is always ready to confront any obstacle while remaining in good spirits; she is the best morale booster ever.”
Raenell’s loss of vision is actually one of her greatest assets, according to the staff at Haddad Chiropractic.
“Her hands are her eyes,” said Haddad Chiropractic Supervisor Gigi Haddad. “Raenell is really good at what she does and is extremely passionate, which is why all her patients love her.”
Raenell, who describes herself as “instinctively a nurturer,” said she’s positive she has chosen the correct career path.
“When I apply a massage treatment, a mental picture forms that appears as a body chart with pressure points, and this intuitively makes me an effective massage therapist,” she said.
Success would not have been possible without the support of the UAV staff, she added.
“I am thankful I crossed paths with the University of Antelope Valley where I was accepted with open arms, and faculty and administration always did their best to accommodate my needs and were always available to help in any way,” Raenell said. “Without the support of the UAV staff, my admissions counselor, Jessica, and my instructor, Ms. Blunt, I would not have prevailed to be where I am today. My goal is to inspire my girls and show them that I am never gonna give up.”
UAV officials are hoping Raenell’s story can inspire others to stay strong, face life’s challenges and define their own personal journeys by pursuing post-secondary education. To learn more, visit www.uav.edu.