I never intended to go to college, let alone pursue a degree that would challenge me in every way and shatter perceptions of my physical limitations.
I was born in Russia with a congenital condition that affected both of my lower extremities. The fibulas never developed, the tibias were deformed, and a mass of disorganized tissues constituted my "feet." From birth, it was determined that, were I ever able to walk, I would require amputation and prostheses—services that the medical system at that time and place could not provide.
Thus, my parents made the unimaginable sacrifice of allowing me to be adopted into an American family that could help me get the services I needed to live the best possible life. I was 18 months old when I arrived in the United States. The necessary procedures were swiftly scheduled. I received physical therapy to learn to navigate my environment using prostheses.