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Emily holding poster at the Walk To end Alzheimer's

My Purpose: Leading the Way to a World Without Alzheimer’s

Posted on 11/27/2017 6:11:00 AM by Emily Rowan

For the last few years, I have gotten up early on a Saturday morning in November and braved the cold fall air to attend the Walk to End Alzheimer’s in Philadelphia.

Why? Well, many people who know me know that my grandmother passed away after her long battle with Alzheimer’s disease, but they only know this because recently, I have chosen to be more vocal about it.

When I started at Cabrini my freshman year I never really thought much about talking about my family’s experience with Alzheimer’s disease. My grandmother had passed and there wasn’t much I could do about it (I thought).

My sophomore year I took a photo class and was asked to focus on one topic. I needed to tell a story through my images. I chose to tell a personal story, about Alzheimer’s disease, a story I don’t often mention. The photo project came and went, I felt proud of my finished work, but I chose to only share the project with my photo class (because it was required) and my mom.

It wasn’t until my junior year, in my journalism I class, when I was asked to write an in-depth article about something I am passionate about and that’s when it hit me, it was time for me to stop hiding the reality and to talk about Alzheimer’s. As confident as I was about my decision to speak out, I still questioned whether writing about my grandmother’s disease was the right thing to do, but with some convincing from my mom I decided this was the perfect opportunity to start to make a difference.

During my time as a student, Cabrini presented me with the opportunity to live with purpose … and I took it.

In April of 2016, I published my story for Cabrini’s student-run newspaper, the Loquitur, and shared that photo project I made a year prior. As hard as it was for me to share, I have never looked back. Seeing my story printed, on paper, felt overwhelmingly great and with more than 230 shares online and many messages thanking me for publishing the piece, I knew I made the right decision. I knew my grandmother would have been proud.

End Alzheimer's disease

As a communication major, I had a platform (and wonderful group of editors and friends) to help me share my story. Before my college career, I never imaged I would be writing for the school newspaper and I definitely never imagined having the opportunity to impact people with my personal story or my photos the way I have. For that, I am forever grateful for my education at Cabrini.

Since publishing my first story I have written a second and this will be my third, continually sharing them online in hopes of giving people a better understanding of the disease that often goes unspoken of. I realized that even though my grandmother is gone and I cannot change that, what I can do is use my voice to spread awareness and fundraise in hopes of one day eliminating Alzheimer’s.  

I continue to wake up each morning and remember to live with purpose, one of my biggest purposes being spreading awareness of the disease impacted myself and my family’s lives.

If you are thinking about speaking out about a topic you are passionate about—do it. Cabrini is a place where people will rally around you and encourage you to be passionate. Don’t be afraid to voice your opinion. Don’t be afraid to live your life with a real purpose and meaning.