Chelsea Griffin was diagnosed with Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) nearly 13 years ago, meaning she’s lived with a chronic illness for most of her life.

Despite a kidney transplant, the disease affects Chelsea’s blood pressure and kidney functions. It frequently leaves her tired and forces her to spend periods of time in the hospital to receive treatment.

But Chelsea believes something positive did come out of her diagnosis—it inspired her to become a pediatric nephrologist scientist. Following that path, she says, will allow her to work with children with chronic kidney issues and participate in kidney research.

Chelsea’s health has impacted every aspect of her life, including her education. Due to FSGS, Chelsea took a break between high school and college. She watched friends graduate from college while she was just beginning her journey. That’s when the resident of the Ashburn neighborhood decided to give her closest City Colleges campus, Richard J. Daley College, a chance.

According to Chelsea, she quickly took a liking to the school.

“I was one of those people who really didn’t want to go [to a community college], but, when I first started at Daley, I absolutely loved my class,” she said. “Ever since then, I’ve been so proud to be a CCC student and just grow my education here.”

Chelsea will graduate from Daley this May with an Associate of Science in Biology. She says the number one thing she’ll miss about the school is the support.

“I love the faculty and support staff. Julie MacCarthy (Director of Career Planning and Placement)—I’ve known her now for two years. Her support has been so vital to not only my education but to my growth as a person.”

In addition to the help Chelsea has received from Director MacCarthy, Daley’s Advising Center offered their assistance when she missed a semester due to her health. Her advisor helped her get back on track towards her goal of transferring to a four-year university after graduation.

The ACCESS Center has also helped her receive accommodations due to her health. In turn, she’s offered the center her support by talking to new CCC students about the resources it offers.

Serving as a student leader has been a theme throughout Chelsea’s CCC journey. She participates in the Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society and One Million Degrees, a mentorship program, and she serves as a peer counselor to families at Lurie Children’s Hospital.

The soon-to-be graduate admits she never imagined her life the way it is today, but she knows her time at Daley has set her up for a successful future.

“Starting in 2018 and ending where I am now, I feel like I am prepared for the next journey,” Chelsea said. “I’m very grateful for this period that I have had, working with the teachers and administrators, and meeting with new people.”

Ahead of graduation, Chelsea is preparing to transfer to a four-year university. She plans to study engineering and chemistry—and hopefully study abroad in the Netherlands.