See Me, Not My Disability - A Conversation with Tim Merkel
How do you pursue your dreams when congenital muscular dystrophy threatens your independence? When you are born with muscular dystrophy, you face a life of muscles breaking down and unable to keep up with growth spurts. During a normal growth spurt, Tim’s spine curved so rapidly that without a full spinal fusion he would die. At fourteen years of age, Tim had a fourteen-hour surgery to straighten his spine. Tim describes how the post surgical excruciating pain led him to question God’s wisdom and love. He had to relearn to walk and cannot walk without assistance to this day. But instead of turning inward into a bitter, young man, Tim persevered through a year of pain and rehabilitation that helped him learn to walk with assistance. The recovery period gave him time to think through his goals of pursuing a life of purpose. His dream to attend a university away from home seemed impossible, but Tim persevered and successfully learned how to navigate the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, while attending Drexel University. Tim successfully completed the “fast track” of earning two degrees during the same time period: a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Engineering and Master’s Degree in Electrical Engineering. Rather than using his disability to open doors, he was determined to help people know him as a person, not as the student with a disability. In this transparent interview, Tim shares some of the ways he intentionally interacted with other students and school staff, as well as his own understanding of God’s purposes for his life.