In May, Nyla Smith made history by becoming the youngest person ever to receive a B.S. degree from St. John’s University. No, not an HBCU, but Nyla’s story transcends across all boards. Nyla’s triumph is a triumph for us all.
In her sophomore year of high school, Smith was diagnosed with Severe Crohn’s Disease, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Depression, and Anxiety Disorder. Despite having to deal with the ailments, Smith had no intentions of letting them defeat her visions.
“I remember being so floored by counsel of those who were sworn to protect my education to advise me to then stop pursuing a traditional educational experience as they felt that it would strain my illnesses,” she said.
Staying true to her dreams of experiencing a traditional education, and disregarding counsel to seek other avenues of education, Nyla graduated from high school at the age of 17 with both her High School Diploma and an Associate’s degree in Science, via an early college program available to her, “I internalized that as an opportunity to show not only could I do that, but I could do that times ten.”
Smith, with 60 college credit hours under her belt, was admitted into St. John’s University as a disability student and in May of 2016 became the youngest student in history to graduate from the university with her Bachelors of Science degree, all the while undergoing chemotherapy.
Nyla’s obstacles and triumphs led her to create a movement to inspire others to chase their dreams, too, as well as to bring awareness to chronic illnesses and the challenges they bring about.
Hustle Hard Campaign is Nyla’s miracle idea birthed out of her willingness to never quit.
About one year into her campaign, Smith’s main objective is to motivate others who deal with chronic illnesses, even taking it a step further and helping them to find scholarships to fund their education.
“There are no specific scholarships for disability students with invisible illnesses, and for them to be able to afford the cost of living on campus, meal plans, and treatment,” she said. “When I was going through treatment I often times could not afford treatment, and I had to choose [between] education or my health.”
With no business background, she has took it upon herself to start her organization from scratch. With advice and tips from those close to her, she has been successfully pulling it off thus far.
Currently working to put together her College tour, Nyla wants to be the shoulder for others that she wished she had during her undergrad years.
“There are many students who at times are going through a similar journey, and Hustle Hard campaign is going to meet them right there on these campuses so that they know they are not by themselves,” Smith said.
Nyla is the inspiration story that doesn’t end. The motivation that does not grow stagnant. Nyla Smith is the remixed encouragement that society has been waiting on.
Putting her time and efforts into making sure others realize their worth and to literally never give up despite any literal, physical, or emotional hurdle.
She proves they are merely rocks on the footpath to success.
“I am mentally disabled, I am physically disabled, and I am still rocking with the rest of them,” she said.