For many, being faced with a life-changing health diagnosis brings uncertainty, but it can also help to positively shift life perspectives and bring about meaningful change. Ariel Dempsey, a graduating MD student from the MSU College of Human Medicine, shared her powerful message of hope, strength, and perseverance at the TEDxMSU Talk at the Wharton Center on Wednesday, March 11th, 2020.
Through her incredible presentation and artistic display of aerial dance, Ariel took the audience along through the courageously kept secret of her traumatic brain injury and story of recovery. As an MSU medical student and a Ph.D. student studying science and religion at the University of Oxford, she draws on both medicine and spirituality to reflect on her experience of living with uncertainty.
While her diagnosis was concluded after experiencing a physical shock en route to Oxford, Ariel Dempsey fought her way through grief and weakness to treasure her moment for life. Although she was prompted to live her life as if it was ending, she states:
“I knew that ‘living like I was dying’ could not be my way. I wouldn’t be truly happy closing my eyes to my diagnosis, distracting myself with experience upon experience, just trying to squeeze the pleasure out of life. Besides, have you ever really tried to live like you're dying? It’s exhausting. I’d rather live like...like I was living.”
When it came to pursuing her life's vision, Ariel didn’t allow her disability to define who she was or what she should make out of life. As an aspiring palliative care physician, she did not give up on her dreams and continued her educational studies, combating her diagnosis with aerial dance, a symbol of recovery from her grief which became a beacon of joy and gratefulness.
When she started her journey at MSU eight months post-injury, Ariel was unsure if she would successfully make it through her first year. However, she utilized support from the Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities (RCPD) to access creative ways of working around her limitations. Accepting both the Shawn Koch Memorial Scholarship and Decker-Muns Friendship Memorial Scholarship, Ariel left no eye dry while presenting her recipient speech. As a truly special and wise individual, Ariel Dempsey has become a familiar face and friend of the RCPD.
Check out Ariel Dempsey in TEDxMSU!