When Shameia Rosier was born, doctors said her life would be marked by all the things she wouldn’t be able to do.
“They said I’d never walk or eat without a tube,” Rosier says.
On Saturday, May 7, after a lifetime of proving her doctors wrong, Rosier will walk across the stage to accept her associate’s degree from Spartanburg Methodist College. From there, the sunny 20-year-old plans to continue her education at Lander University in Greenwood, South Carolina.
“I’m getting a degree in psychology, and I hope to be a licensed therapist,” she says. “I like to help people, to listen. You don’t necessarily need to talk all the time.”
Born with arthrogryposis, a congenital disease causing joint deformities, Rosier, who grew up in Greenville, South Carolina, spent the first years of her life in and out of hospitals. She underwent multiple surgeries on her hips and heels, and even endured a full body cast for weeks. Until the fifth grade, she wore braces on her legs.
Rosier credits her grandparents, who raised her, with instilling in her a determination to push beyond her physical limitations.
“When I was a baby and on the feeding tube, my grandmother just kept giving me tiny little bits of food, day after day, until I could swallow on my own,” she recalls. “And when I decided I wanted to walk, she encouraged me to keep trying until I could do it.”
Rosier’s “Papa” was a staunch advocate for his granddaughter – his attention to her needs and care made all the difference in her success, she says. “My Papa has always been there for me. Kids with disabilities need an advocate to make sure they’re getting the right services and help, otherwise they can fall through the cracks. Papa was always on top of it, and I will always be grateful for that.”
With her grandparents’ example of selfless commitment to her welfare, it’s not surprising Rosier was drawn to programs that focused on leadership and volunteerism. As a participant in Ladies of Distinction in middle school and Bridges to a Brighter Future (a Furman University program) in high school, she spent hours working outside the classroom with other students who were passionate about improving themselves and their communities.
“In Bridges, I was surrounded by a very diverse group of kids, and I learned that everyone has a story and not to judge a book by its cover,” Rosier says.
At SMC, everyone knows “Meia.” She just finished a year as president of the Student Government Association (SGA). She helped found and manage the school’s first hip hop dance team. She’s on the board of the college’s service fraternity, Kappa Sigma Alpha (KSA). And those are just a few of the clubs and activities she’s been involved in during her two years at SMC.
During the college’s award’s night in April, Rosier received the KSA Thomas R. Bailey Humanitarian Award in recognition of her outstanding leadership, commitment and service to humanity. She also received the SGA Leadership Award, a Who’s Who Among Students in American Junior Colleges Achievement Award in Leadership and the Olin D. Johnston Good Citizenship Award, which was presented to her by President Scott Cochran.
“Shameia is one of the most determined individuals I have ever had the pleasure to work with,” Cochran said. “She’s bright, focused and a community builder. Success favors hard workers and Shameia is an exceptionally hard worker. She’s going to change the world.”