PDC student graduates despite chronic illness

Published 10:06 am Wednesday, July 5, 2017


Laurenda Boone had little confidence that she would succeed at pursuing a postsecondary degree. In 2008, she was diagnosed with systemic lupus, a chronic disease that involves the body attacking its own tissues and organs. The inflammatory disorder can affect many different systems in the body.

By 2011, Boone’s condition declined to the point where she had to rely on a wheelchair to remain mobile. In the meantime, her mother, who was also ill, stood as her greatest supporter. But she passed away in 2014, leaving Boone beside herself with grief.

“I was at one of the lowest points in my life,” she said. “I was doing nothing at home, but flipping through channels.” I decided to make a change in my life.”

But Boone was apprehensive about what she could accomplish due to the current outcome of the disease.

“I had lost my confidence over the years while being sick. I felt different, and I was,” she said. “I had been out of school for 12 years. But, my faith in God carried me.”

For two years, no matter what the weather, the general studies student rode about a half mile each way in her powered wheelchair to get to her classes and back home.

“Sometimes the sun, the freezing weather or the rain tried to beat me down, but that made me want to go even harder,” she said. “I was not going to be defeated by a wheelchair or disease.”

She began as a work-study student in the library during spring 2017 semester and graduated in May with nearly a 3.0 grade point average. The 31-year-old returned recently to volunteer in the library during the summer, but has been accepted to Regent University, where she will work to attain her bachelor’s degree in psychology beginning this fall.

“After getting my degree, I would like to become a renal social worker,” she said. “This field of work that I want to go into is inspired by my mom and my uncle Nathan.”

A renal social worker serves as holistic support for people who are going through dialysis.

“It is draining to watch the ones you love go back and forth to dialysis on a daily basis,” she explained.  “This was my family’s story for 14 years. My mom was one of the strongest women I know. She was a fighter. I want to be there to help and inspire others.”

Boone sings nothing but praise for her decision to enroll in a postsecondary education institution and is very proud of earning her associates degree.

“Never underestimate a person because of what you see,” she said. “I have been blessed with the opportunity to start over.

“This school is like a family. I think it’s a good start for people who want to continue their education even beyond community college.”

WENDY HARRISON is the public relations manager at Paul D. Camp Community College. She can be reached at wharrison@pdc.edu.