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Sunday, May 16, 2021

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Sara Meza Sara Meza
 


Truly Life-Changing

SDSU student Sara Meza’s battle with a rare muscle cancer has not stopped her from pursuing her dream of higher education, thanks to the Wallace, Shatsky, Blackburn, Courage Through Cancer Fund.
By Ryan Schuler
 

“I am and always will be eternally grateful for the Courage Through Cancer Fund, its kindness, grace, and opportunities.”

To help an SDSU student facing a cancer crisis, make a donation to the Wallace, Shatsky, Blackburn, Courage Through Cancer Fund here.

San Diego State University student Sara Meza was 16 years old when she was diagnosed with a rare muscle cancer that left her with debilitating chronic pain and fatigue from fibromyalgia, scars and a learning disability.

She was forced to withdraw from school several times. Her cancer treatment made it difficult for her to hold down a part-time job, attend school full time, and participate in extracurricular activities. Though times were tough and her diagnosis took a physical and mental toll, the Chula Vista native always dreamed of graduating from college.

“I feared how my disabilities would affect my opportunities as a student, worker, and person,” said Meza. “For a long time, I struggled with being incapable of living a fast-paced life like my peers, missing out on wonderful opportunities, plans, and goals.

But with the support of her family and faith, Meza endured, eventually enrolling at SDSU in fall 2020 and majoring in sustainability. 

“Even if my disabilities greatly limit my health and energy to pursue many ventures at once, my actions have driven me to work harder and completely give myself to the things that matter most,” said Meza.

Meza is a recent recipient of SDSU’s Wallace, Shatsky, Blackburn, Courage Through Cancer Fund. Tammy Blackburn (’94, ’01), who is living with Stage IV breast cancer and is the director of marketing and communications for University Relations and Development, established the fund in September 2018 to aid students affected by the disease. Since that time, the fund has raised more than $250,000 and provided assistance to 20 students whose studies were negatively impacted by cancer either through their own diagnoses or the struggle of a loved one fighting the illness.

Through assistance from the fund, students like Meza are able to continue their studies at SDSU and pursue their dreams.

The SDSU News Team spoke to Meza about her decision to attend SDSU and how the fund has assisted her and her family.

Why did you choose to attend SDSU? Why did you feel SDSU was the best place for you? 

I fell in love with San Diego State University after high school, desiring to pursue my studies locally because of my turbulent health. I would occasionally shadow classes and was also involved in the amazing Catholic faith community here before I was even a student. Also, building relationships with those in the Environmental Sciences program helped reaffirm my passion for sustainability. It was a blessing to have a broad and established environmental program at SDSU. With so many students majoring in sustainability here, it gives me tremendous hope for the future. 

How has the Courage Through Cancer Fund helped you to move forward both in your academics and personal life? 

The Courage Through Cancer Fund has been so generous to me, helping me follow my dreams of making the world a better place by pursuing higher education. It brought a monumental blessing upon my family; it is truly an awe-inspiring way to start my time in university and to have peace of mind for the semesters ahead. It is a true relief, after so many years of hardship, to be able to fund my education with the help of the Courage Through Cancer Fund. For years, my dearest wish was to be well enough to attend school and succeed. The Courage Through Cancer Fund has made this possible. 

How has SDSU provided you with the resources and opportunities to succeed? 

There are hundreds of resources to help students in every possible way and need, and I look forward to using their mentorship programs and career-related events in the future. Thus far, the Student Ability Success Center has been instrumental in my educational journey and support with my health condition. Most of all, I have been blessed by the community at the SDSU Newman Center (part of the Catholic Diocese of San Diego) and the transformative generosity of SDSU’s scholarship opportunities. 

What do you hope to do as your career? 

To build and bridge healthier communities starting from the ground up. I hope to increase nutritional access in impoverished communities, potentially start my own zero-waste business, and one day advise my city on sustainability and environmental safety for a healthier future for all. 

What would you say to all of the donors to the Courage Through Cancer Fund? 

It is in the lives of people like me, where your gift can mean the difference in accessing and obtaining transformative opportunities towards our goals by providing the blessing of quality higher education. Being here at San Diego State University and accomplishing my educational journey every day has truly been a dream come true. 

On behalf of all students and recipients, I thank you for playing an active and generous role in bestowing one of the most precious gifts you can give. You truly have the power to change lives by granting a scholarship recipient access to opportunities we may not have otherwise. I am and always will be eternally grateful for the Courage Through Cancer Fund, its kindness, grace, and opportunities. 

To help an SDSU student facing a cancer crisis, make a donation to the Wallace, Shatsky, Blackburn, Courage Through Cancer Fund here.