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JSU graduate lost her sight but not her vision

Published: Dec. 17, 2021 at 6:42 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Last Friday was a milestone for a Jackson State University graduate who received her diploma.

Just four years ago she started going blind. The 24-year-old says she lost her sight but not her vision and is on a mission to help others with disabilities.

“I just wanted to insure to myself I can meet my own expectations,” said Cathy Maberry.

The Jackson native is exceeding the expectations of the VA’s Recreation Therapy Program. She developed a line dancing class in a pilot program she introduced for visually impaired veterans during her internship.

The JSU graduate reached out to disabled veterans, organizing the VA’s first Veterans Fitness Challenge.

“From my perspective, being visually impaired I would like to still try to do things I used to do, whether it’s dancing, any type of sport and still be active,” said Maberry.

Diagnosed with intercranial hypertension, the Forest Hill High School graduate began losing her vision in 2017 and went blind earlier this year.

“I want to help persons with disabilities still do what they used to do, but counseling because I lost my sight at 21 and that’s quite hard,” added the graduate.

Mayberry overcame many obstacles and exceeded the program’s requirements. V.A. Recreational Therapy supervisor Dr. Devonda Elliot said she was determined and wanted to be treated like others in the internship program.

“She always did above and beyond,” said Elliot. “I think I’ve had over six intern students and Miss Maberry has really been the one that stood out the most. To me has really just paved the way.”

The V.A.’s Deputy Chief of Staff introduced the internship program that allowed Maberry to connect with disabled vets.

The medical center administrator said her work was recognized during the VA’s National Recreational Therapy meeting where system chiefs learned about the pilot programs she introduced and the success in changing the outlook of the veterans.

“They didn’t have a role model as such and for her to come in and say I can do it and showing people that I’m doing it really gave them such an open window,” said Harvey.

Her message is to overcome adversity.

“Push through it. Face those challenges and it builds confidence,” added Maberry. “It builds character, and it shows your resilience.

Maberry underwent surgery in May when a shunt was placed in her brain to drain fluid buildup which causes swelling behind her eyes. While hospitalized she worked on registration for the fall semester and submissions for her September internship.

One VA officials call a success.

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