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If not for her positive outlook and personal strength, 24-year-old Dyneshia “Dee” Daniels from Pontiac does not know where she would be today. Dee struggles with both lupus and chronic kidney disease, two conditions that alone would make it difficult to go to school full-time and stay employed. While needing lifesaving dialysis three times a week and enduring frequent hospital stays, Dee has missed many consecutive schooldays and has a schedule that makes it impossible to maintain a job. Although these frustrations might deter some, Dee stays in good spirits and fights to reach her goals. These are two of the reasons that the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan (NKFM) awarded her both the Richard D. Swartz/Maurie Ferriter Scholarship and the Mary Brennan Scholarship in 2020.

Dee was eligible for the scholarships because she was on dialysis and had been unable to afford her continuing education. Her mom and dad are supportive but do not have the resources to cover her college tuition. Additional criteria include past academic performance and the potential to succeed in a chosen field.

When she found out she had won the scholarships, Dee was overjoyed. “It was the first time I was ever honored like that. Even though I am a hard worker academically, I didn’t expect to win.”

The scholarships were an extra boost, she says. “They allowed me to not think about having to get another loan. With no more setbacks, I’m going to keep pushing and striving.”

When Dee was 13 and in the hospital for her lupus diagnosis, she observed all the “medical people helping others” and decided that she wanted to do that in the future. Dee’s goal is not just to be a nurse — she plans to become a nurse anesthetist. She chose that specialty because she would be providing a lot of high-level hands-on care. Currently taking her nursing pre-requisites at Oakland Community College, she plans eventually to transfer to Oakland University.

After some recent hospitalizations caused her to be taken off the kidney transplant list, Dee is currently rebuilding her health so she can return to it. She has thought about asking people to be her kidney donor but it is not that straightforward. Her dad is also on dialysis and on the kidney transplant waiting list. “What if my mom gets a call that they have kidneys for both me and my Dad? How will she cope? We don’t have a lot of family in the area,” Dee explains. “Some of my friends are interested in donating but none of them have anyone to care for them while they recover.”

When Dee is not studying, she is playing video games or visiting the Detroit Riverfront with her friends. “I’m very outgoing, adventurous and spontaneous. I love to do girl things like getting my nails and hair done,” Dee shares. “But my kidney disease has slowed me down. Some days I’m really tired.” She explains that her friends understand when she is having trouble and encourage her to take one day at a time. “You take it day by day because you don’t know how you’re going to feel.”

Dee has also indicated an interest in volunteering with NKFM and possibly becoming a kidney peer mentor in the future to support others with kidney disease.

Dee explains that she is always looking at both sides of herself. “I know that I look good. People don’t realize I have [kidney disease] because I take good care of myself. Thank God I don’t look like what I’ve gone through,” she jokes with a laugh that highlights her courageous outlook. “Somedays I feel like giving up but I keep praying and pushing through. I have so much to look forward to.”

For more information on NKFM scholarships, go here.