Justine Reinard “I’ve always enjoyed reading these ‘life stories’ about the people who come to SMC. ‘Keep trying’ is what they say. And that’s a good message.”

It’s an interesting mix that Justine Reinard has whipped up for herself at SMC: Spanish, piano, Shakespeare and weight training. But the eclectic 17 units she’s taken on really represent a very focused, determined approach to overcoming a very severe problem: epilepsy. “I came back to California after I got really ill,” says Justine who is a dedicated fighter against prejudice towards those who are disabled. “I was having too many seizures for my employers. For some reason,” she continues with a dark laugh, “they like to have you standing on your feet.” But though she manages to see the humor in her situation, it has brought home some painful truths.

“I’ve actually been fired from jobs because of epilepsy,” says the former teacher of speech communication at Arizona State University. “And so I’ve been taking classes while on disability to get back into the job market. I think that going to college is the best way of convincing employers that I’m reliable.” And Justine adds that she’s well on her way to getting her teaching credential in California. But the good health—both the physical and intellectual—that she has cultivated at SMC has inspired her. “In my weight training class I’ve been helped to work out at my own pace. And it’s minimized the number of seizures I’ve had,” reports Justine. “I’m improving, getting stronger and ought to be able to show employers that I’m in good health.” As to the intellectual side of her development Justine says, “I’ve been at several universities, Arizona State among them. My former husband was a teaching assistant at USC. And I can tell you truthfully: the quality of SMC is equivalent to any of them.”

Read more stories from present and past years in the SMC Student Spotlight Archive.