Human Interest

‘A proud day’: Mother celebrates as daughter with Down syndrome graduates college

down syndrome, graduation

In a world where parents are routinely encouraged to kill their preborn children who have Down syndrome, it can be difficult to remember that these children can grow up to lead fruitful and fulfilling lives. Recognizing the achievements of people living with Down syndrome is an important reminder that living with the condition is not the misfortune so many believe it to be. That’s why Lynda O’Brien, of Ireland, is celebrating her daughter Julie’s recent graduation from Trinity College.

Lynda told the Meath Chronicle that she once believed Julie would never be able to attend school. “When she was young the first thing you think about is, will she make it to school? Will she get to do the same things as other children her age?” she said. Seeing Julie graduate after a two-year course in Arts, Science and Inclusive Applied Practice was a dream come true. “It was such a proud day watching her graduate,” Lynda said.

It’s no surprise that Lynda had these worries. Parents who give birth to children with Down syndrome are often bombarded with negative messages, detailing every medical issue that their children might face or all the developmental or physical issues they might encounter. In the face of such information, many parents are left to feel hopeless, wondering if their children have any chance at a normal life.

READ: ESPN honors Chris Nikic, first person with Down syndrome to complete Ironman triathlon

Julie’s story is a reminder that while living with Down syndrome can be a challenge, it doesn’t have to be limiting. Lynda said Julie’s time at college gave her “so much independence,” and she currently has an internship with the communications and legal teams in Optum Ireland.

Lynda was quick to credit the people around Julie who helped to make her school experience a successful one. “It really was such an amazing experience. Having a disability is not always easy but when you have the support of your lecturers, family, extended family and some very special friends anything is possible,” she said.

She also praised Julie’s new employer for giving her a chance at meaningful work. “It’s about the people that are out there too, the company that have taken her on and the time they are spending with her, and that’s amazing —and society seems to be progressing that way which is a great sign.”

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