Michelle Ameera Hassan’s typical day begins at 5:00 a.m. One by one, she wakes up each of her six children, preparing them breakfast and getting them ready for school. By 10:00 a.m. she is dashing around the house taking care of her toddler, scheduling doctor appointments for her disabled daughter and making dinner for the children for later that evening. Somehow, amongst all of her responsibilities, Michelle found time to enroll at Trocaire College and is now a second semester registered nursing student.
Her children, Yasmine, 16; Rose, 13; Bryanna, 11; Summer, 10; Alexzander, 8; and Laila, 4 are her motivation. “My children are my inspiration for everything I do. I’m going to school and bettering my education for them. They are so supportive of my studies at Trocaire,” said Michelle. Describing her children as supportive may be an understatement. From the very oldest, to the very youngest, they all help each other in different ways. On a day-to-day basis, her eldest daughter takes all the younger kids off of the bus and ensures they do their homework while she fixes plates with the meal Michelle made for them that morning.
They also love to help their mom study her nursing material whenever they can. Michelle’s daughter Summer helped her study with flashcards so much over her break from school, she went back to elementary school with a whole new set of mental faculties. When her teacher asked each person in the class to share something they did over their break, Summer said “I learned how to identify an apical pulse. 60-100 beats per minute is normal, but my mom thinks anything over 80 we have to watch.” Needless to say, Summer’s teacher was quite impressed.
Michelle draws her highest form of motivation from her daughter, Bryanna. “When she was born, the doctors said that there was no hope in her survival,” said Michelle. At the age of eight she suffered a stroke which caused facial paralysis and left the doctors perplexed. The things we take for granted like chewing food and opening our eyes became Bryanna’s daily battles. Michelle explained, “This little girl was so determined and she did not give up on anything. She always saw the positive in everything. She taught me the meaning of life. She taught me strength and courage and to never give up on hope. Hope is all we have.”
Now 11-years-old, doctors believe Bryanna has a mitochondrial muscle disease and she works with an occupational therapist on a regular basis. “Her whole life she has been treated like a guinea pig; testing different methods, trying to figure out what her condition is. I am not sure if Bryanna realizes how strong of a person she is. I am who I am because of her. She can overcome anything because God is with her in her journey of life,” said Michelle. Largely because of Bryanna the Hassan family has adopted a family motto to remove ‘never’ from their vocabulary. “There is no such thing as never,” says Michelle.
Michelle’s clinical instructor at Mercy Hospital, Donnette Hong, can attest to her dedicated and optimistic approach on life. “She is kind and supportive to classmates and patients. She has a positive attitude and is hardworking: a true role model to the other students,” said Hong. “Michelle has a level of empathy for patients that very few students at her level demonstrate. She is always doing nice things for people, and she never expects anything in return.”
Sustaining over a 3.0 average in a demanding program is definitely something to be proud of, especially considering how trying her schedule is. “I am lucky to be a student at Trocaire. I feel very blessed to be here,” noted Michelle.
In true Michelle fashion, on top of all of her other responsibilities, she manages to tutor students for sociology and psychology in the Palisano Center for Academic Success (PCAS) at Trocaire. Dr. Althea Porter, Director of the PCAS describes Michelle as a very well-liked person. “Michele is a very enthusiastic and motivated student. The Center was very proud that she was honored at last year’s honors convocation for her academic achievements,” stated Dr. Porter.
Living in the now and tackling her daily responsibilities isn’t Michelle’s only strong suit; she has high goals and dreams for the future. When she graduates, she hopes to further her education and become a nurse practitioner. Michelle also stated, “I aspire to give back to the community and open a scholarship fund for mothers who want to improve their families’ lives by continuing their education.” By the time she is 50, she plans to write a book.
It is apparent, “never” is not a word in Michelle Hassan’s vocabulary.