SPRINGFIELD — Effingham County Salutatorian Miranda Christine Walker described the class of 2018's progress toward graduation as "a journey."
For her, it was an incredibly bumpy one.
Walker managed to stay at the top of her class despite battling an illness that left the right side of her body paralyzed during her senior year.
"My journey can only be perceived as negative but it turned out to be a learning experience for me," she said. "It was like seeing the glass as half full instead of half empty. It was all about perspective."
Walker missed many of the highlight events of her senior year, including the marching band season and homecoming. She was hospitalized for about three months, unable to eat, drink, walk or breathe on her own.
"I was at the lowest point in my young life," she told the large Rebel Field crowd. "As I watched my friends have fun on Facebook, I started to question — why me?"
Walker shared that she slowly became determined to conquer her ailment and obstacles it presented, including potential cognitive damage.
"Just because the odds may be stacked against you doesn't mean that it has to be," she said. "I refused to believe that I would never walk, play the saxophone or express myself through art ever again."
Walker also touched on the importance of perseverance, enthusiasm and faith as she pursued her dream of returning to school and activities with her friends.
"Though my dream was hard at first, I prayed constantly for God to restore me for His glory ... " she said.
See the May 30 edition of the Effingham Herald for more details.