One of the joys of having my sister, Sarah, in my life is the ability to connect with others who share similar passions through our unique life experiences. I am always encouraged when I meet other siblings who feel just as proud of their brother or sister as I do of Sarah. Down syndrome has brought so many people into our lives—people from across the country that I wouldn’t have otherwise connected with. I’m thankful for the community of individuals that I’ve met that strive to create an abundant life for our loved ones.
I’d like to introduce you to Julia. Many of you might know her from her Instagram handle:
If you haven’t, make sure you follow her on Instagram and check out her blog.
A few weeks ago, I was able to connect with Julia over the phone. She is a full time, 4th year college student at the University of California San Diego. After graduation, she aspires to enter medical school to study functional medicine and is currently taking the classes necessary to prepare for that next chapter of her life. And if her class load doesn’t seem daunting enough–her and I were only able to find time to talk on the phone after her 3-hour long swim practice. Not only is she a member of UCSD’s varsity swim program, she is 3x NCAA Championships qualifier going into her senior year.
While she is an impressive student with a bright future ahead of her and is an accomplished athlete with quite an impressive record–she quickly moved the focus of our conversation from her aspirations to her twin brother, Michael, who has Down syndrome.
Pride for her brother was apparent, even over the telephone. She shared with me ways that Michael, despite being non-verbal, impacts and inspires everyone that crosses his path. His kindness and happiness that he exudes brings joy to the people in his life, especially those closest to him.
She shared with me that Michael is such a blessing to her family and has changed her life in unimaginable ways.
“Michael has taught me many things in life. However, perspective and acceptance of others is what I have learned most from him,” Julia explained to me. “If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t be the person that I am today.”
Even though her school work load is difficult to juggle with swimming obligations, an important priority of her schedule is being able to go home and spend time with her brother.
“Spending time together brings Michael so much joy. He doesn’t stop smiling when I’m home. He is also a source of inspiration and drive in my life.”
When asked her about her future plans, she shared with me that Michael is her inspiration for wanting to go on to Medical School. She hopes to someday impact other individuals with special needs so that they can live a full, healthy life.
Beyond her career aspirations, she has always envisioned Michael living with her in the future.
“I have always wanted a home big enough so that Michael would be able to live with me.”
Their relationship is one of the most important aspects of Julia’s life. As I could relate to, she envisions a future where she is able to continue a close and supporting relationship with her brother.
“Whatever the future holds, I want to remain close to Michael and watch him grow in his abilities. I want to be able to provide support and opportunities for him so that he can continue being impactful to others. I truly feel that I could not have been more blessed than I am with him in my life.”