Local Student Overcomes Rare Genetic Disorder to Graduate from Ashford University

Misty Manning

*The following story was submitted by Ashley Cassidy and Gable PR…thank you for the submission of this great story!

EZEL, Ky. (April 30, 2012) – Misty Manning, a 29-year-old mother with a rare genetic disorder, endured 13 surgeries and multiple hospitalizations while attending online classes at Ashford University. With extreme perseverance, her dream of being the first in her family to earn a college degree is becoming a reality.

While health issues and a forthcoming surgery preclude Manning from participating in the traditional commencement ceremony, she will receive her diploma – a bachelor’s degree in social sciences – from Ashford University.

Manning was born with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a rare genetic condition that affects the body’s joints and connective tissue. She was the first in her family to graduate high school and had the goal of earning a college degree. However, between raising a family of six children and dealing with severe medical issues, a traditional college setting was overwhelming and impractical for her.

Online higher education provided Manning with the flexibility to attend classes on her own schedule. She began taking Ashford University classes in 2007. There were two breaks for major surgeries; but, for the most part, she determinedly worked through medical issues, oftentimes studying from a hospital bed.

“We believe that everyone who is academically qualified deserves access to a higher education,” Elizabeth Tice, president of Ashford University, said.”Online higher education brings down barriers. We salute students like Manning who overcome tremendous obstacles to achieve their goals.”

Manning’s biggest obstacle in school was typing. “I have limited use of my right arm, which forced me to type assignments with one hand,” she said. “I didn’t let my shortcomings interfere with my education, or life for that matter. Two of my children were born with the same disorder so it’s important to demonstrate that they have the capability to lead a fulfilling life.”

Despite her challenges, Manning takes pride in making the dean’s list all throughout her college journey and she’ll graduate with the magna cum laude distinction. “My grandmother instilled in me that no obstacle is impossible. I’m grateful to my husband for his support and the opportunity to demonstrate to my children that dreams really are attainable,” she said.

Manning wants to be a high school history teacher and someday teach at the college level. Her plan is to pursue a master’s degree in education.

Even with more surgeries scheduled in her future, Manning has an upbeat affinity for life. Her advice to others is, “Don’t let anything interfere with education. Education is priceless. Don’t deprive yourself.”