For Lydia Paradysz, it’s a regular tradition to spend a quiet morning rollerblading through the neighborhood alongside her husky, Bruce. It gives her the opportunity to reflect on the journey that has taken her to where she is today. A standout senior in Concordia University Ann Arbor’s family life program, Lydia is a whirlwind of passion, focus and fun.
As with her morning routine, Lydia’s story is uncommon. She faced uncertain terrain and unforeseen turns that even she and Bruce couldn’t easily rollerblade through.
Now, as one of two students out of hundreds of applicants with a prestigious child life internship at Mayo Clinic Children’s Center, Lydia has learned that, for her, true success started with real compassion.
Some may think that Lydia’s excellence in such a competitive field was bound to happen. After all, she grew up on medical terminology, health diagnoses, and hospital stories. Day in and day out, she saw her mother, a pediatric intensive care nurse, impact the lives of patients. From the beginning, Lydia knew that she, too, wanted to have a significant influence on others.
Even so, Lydia’s journey was never a straight one. Uncertain about what she wanted to do with her life after high school, Lydia attended a local community college and began a long process of job shadowing in hopes of discovering the calling she could claim as her own. She likened her search to a “Say Yes to the Dress” experience, except this time it was, “Say Yes to the Career.”
It was during that breadth of time when Lydia’s friend was diagnosed with cancer and underwent treatment at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor. Lydia’s first year of college, her friend passed away.
“It has definitely been a big part of my life,” Lydia recalls. “I often reflect back on what she taught me and how I felt through that. Seeing and hearing all the things she went through, all the treatments and procedures, and how she was still so strong through the process impacted my decision to go to CUAA.”
Lydia saw her friend’s strength and, even more, she saw the hurdles her friend’s family had to go through as they learned how to be supportive and be supported. The experience led her to pursue the family life program’s child life specialist track at CUAA, for students interested in being emotional advocates for families in medical crises.
I often reflect back on what [my friend] taught me and how I felt through her illness. Seeing and hearing all the things she went through, all the treatments and procedures, and how she was still so strong through the process impacted my decision to go to CUAA.
“I want to be the person who is ready to support families in their hardest times,” Lydia says. “I want to be the person who is there for them when they don’t know what to do.”
Now in her final year, Lydia is preparing to move to Minnesota for her internship at Mayo Clinic. As she thinks back on her mornings spent rollerblading and the winding path that brought her here, she adds with a smile in her voice: “In such a journey, it’s hard not to have faith. In a competitive field like this, faith has grounded me. So has Concordia.”