Student who beat cancer three times and had multiple surgeries graduates University
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A Wisconsin college senior is celebrating her graduation after beating cancer an incredible three times.
Hollyn Peterson will be giving an inspiring speech at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater commencement this weekend and hopes to inspire those in attendance with her drive to never give up.
"I relapsed, and it came back when I was seven, and then unfortunately, it came back a third time," she said.
This taught Hollyn how to be resilient and determined at an early point in life, helping her later with persevering on with her education.
"I missed over 650 days of school, so, when I was going back, I just had no clue what was going on," she said.
Regardless of falling behind with her studies, due to ongoing treatment and surgeries, Hollyn never gave up on her dreams and pursued art as her passion thanks to her high school art teacher encouraging her.
"'You're going to go to college and you're going to go to art school, and you're going to become an art teacher,'" Peterson recalled. "I was like, 'No, I'm not.'"
Peterson added that painting gave her a new lease of life, explaining: "I think, as a freshman here, I was very much like, 'I want it to be pretty. I want it to look nice,' and as the years went on, it was more about the emotion that I was getting,"
"It gives me catharsis when I'm painting."
Helping her through her college studies and journey towards graduation was UW-Whitewater associate professor of art and design, Greg Porcaro.
Porcaro said: "I'm incredibly proud of her and she was an exceptional student, both academically and also as a human being," adding: "She's very genuine, kind, a grounded, humble young woman, and I can attribute that to the struggles that she had at an early age. Her resiliency is amazing."
With graduation nearing ever closer, Hollyn Peterson wants to help her fellow seniors recognise how to be grateful for the life they have with a very important message.
Giving a snippet of what to expect in her speech, Hollyn said: "You were able to accomplish this, and you're here at graduation and look at what you have done,"
"And there's so much more that you're going to do, and that you can do."
Following her graduation, Hollyn plans to continue learning at Syracuse University in New York. She hopes to gain a masters degree in fine art.