“I think I wanted to feel independent and like a "real adult,’" said Lana. “...so I took a night-shift job—3PM to midnight—which didn't conflict with my school schedule.”
While she managed to do this for her freshman and sophomore years—in part by working at Bay Photo Lab in Santa Cruz—she eventually realized that she couldn’t do it without her parents’ help.
“It was a good job, but it was too stressful for me to work full-time while going to school full-time, and it took a toll on me academically and psychologically,” said Lana. “Everybody needs help sometimes and everyone has their own struggles to overcome.”
In addition to help from her parents, Lana also received services from the University.
“At UCSC, there's a Disability Resource Center that coordinates extra time, note-takers for those who need them, and extra tutoring for free,” said Lana. “Having extra time really helped cut the pressure for science and math exams. Some tests I didn’t need my extra time, but it was nice to have anyway.”
Lana says some of her biggest challenges post-Stanbridge though were not academic but more social in nature.
“I’ve had trouble socializing normally my whole life. Unfortunately, this issue didn’t disappear in college. Sometimes I felt like everyone else was busy with all their friends and parties and I didn’t see how I could obtain that for myself,” said Lana. “I joined a sorority my senior year. It was a little awkward to join so late in my academic tenure, but overall it was a good experience. I wish I'd done it sooner.”
Although Lana had to take a medical leave the first quarter of her sophomore year, and took a reduced course load for many of the quarters following, she still finished her degree in four years and one quarter by taking summer classes from De Anza College and UCLA. Lana graduated in the fall of 2015 with a B.S. in neuroscience.
In spring of 2015, Lana was accepted to Kent State University’s doctoral program in neuroscience.
“I want to become a researcher, because I have a lot of curiosity about the world,” said Lana. “Specifically, I want to probe neuropsychiatric disorders. This may be partly because I understand what it's like to see the world differently due to my ASD.”
At present, Lana is taking some extra time to decide which of the three rotations she will make her permanent home for research at Kent. Because she is interested in neuropsychiatric disorders, she hopes to find a way to apply that interest to the lab of her choice.
When asked if she had any advice for recent Stanbridge graduates, Lana replied, “It’s cliche but it’s true: find something you’re really interested in, and pursue that.”
In her free time, Lana is also an accomplished author; her short story collection titled The Dismantling was published through the Canadian publisher Gnome on Pig Productions.