Sarah Boury is an overcomer. She's been climbing barriers since birth. Boury was born with a rare birth ailment. By the time she was, 14 months old, she became deaf due to a high fever and reaction to medication.  At age 7, she spoke her first sentence, after that she had learned to read people’s lips. That didn't stop her though. Sarah attended mainstream public schools for much of her K-12 education, using sign language interpreters and her own ability to read people’s speech.

Defying all odds

All of that hard work and determination culminated with her walking across the stage on May 7 at the UNI graduation ceremony and receiving her college degree. She did it. She conquered the obstacles and achieved one of her lifelong dreams.

An article on InsideUNI explains that the 23-year-old Des Moines, Iowa, native is believed to be the first person born with a birth ailment known as EA-TEF to graduate from the University. EA-TEF occurs in one of every 2,500 births. She overcomes the daily challenges of breathing with one lung and sustaining herself through a tube-feeding system. All this, while using one cochlear implant.

What is EA-TEF?

As described by InsideUNI, Boury was born at 35 weeks with a missing right lung; a break in her esophagus, or swallowing tube, that won’t allow food or liquid to pass through; and an abnormal connection between the esophagus and the trachea that lets fluids get into the airways and interferes with breathing.

Nothing's gonna stop her now

Boury not only graduated with a UNI bachelor’s degree, she double-majored in "Family Services" and "Social Work". That's impressive. She credits her success to her family and to UNI.  “I could not survive without my family and their support,” (and) “UNI wants to see people become successful", said Boury.

What's in the future for Sarah?

“I want to help others become independent and self-sufficient, and to get a higher education so they can be in a position of management,” said Boury. She aims to work as a supervisor at the Iowa nonprofit Mainstream Living Inc., where she interned. She also has her sights set on earning a Master's Degree.

She's a fighter

Katie O’Brien, UNI’s American Sign Language instructor,  who is Boury’s friend and mentor, said: “With all the challenges, she was not going to give up. She’s a fighter. That is for sure."  Yes, she is Katie, yes she is. Stay determined Sarah, and keep making us "Iowa proud".

*parts of this article republished with permission

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