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Facing the unimaginable, she yet flourishes

A couple years ago, Maci Nestlerode’s father suffered a spinal cord injury, leaving him in a wheelchair.

“I never expected to have to go through that with a parent,” she said.

Maci was only 19 years old, at the beginning of her college career at CSU and wrestling with the possibility of having to leave her program in the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs and return home to Portage Lake.

“It was hard thinking that I’d have to leave,” she admits.

The mounting responsibilities of caring for her ailing father and being a support to her family was her first priority. Understandably, school became more of a challenge.

Still, she didn’t want to leave. As a non-profit major, Maci felt like she’d found a home in the Levin College, like she was where she needed to be to thrive.

Then came her scholarship and everything became clearer. She couldn’t leave.

Though she’d received the Provost’s Award as an incoming freshman, when she received her new scholarship, The AKA Family Legacy Scholarship, it was the boon she needed to stay on track.

"It made me feel a lot better and more confident that I can keep going and I can still do it," she said tearfully.

These days Maci is a junior, and her father is still bound to a wheelchair, but she says that she and her family have learned to balance the responsibilities. If anything, her pace at school has quickened.

“I have a spreadsheet of my schedule and it stresses me out,” she laughs.

She’s the secretary in CSU’s chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America, she’s helping to establish a chapter of the League of Women Voters on campus along with working in The Mareyjoyce Green Women's Center. Plus, she works mornings at the mall in Strongsville with sporadic babysitting jobs.

Though free time is scarce, Maci’s eyes are trained on the finish line. It’s her personal mission to be the first in her immediate family to graduate. And when that days comes, she’s excited for what lay ahead even if she hasn’t fully determined that yet.

“I don’t care if I ever make six figures in my life. I would like to help people.”

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