A New York woman who was given just three days to live when she was born has far exceeded expectations by recently graduating from college, according to WABC.
Last Wednesday, Nekhidia Harris, 24, graduated from Medgar Evers College with honors and walked across stage at the Barclays Center.
“I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is really, really happening,'” she told the station. “Oh my gosh, I thank God every day.”
Harris was born with several issues, including brittle bones, and has since had multiple fractures and several surgeries. Still, the college graduate, who is about the size of a toddler, has remained upbeat over the years, her mother Dasline Harris said.
“She lights up a room,” Dasline said. “No matter what darkness is in the room, she lights up that room.”
Despite her short stature, Nekhidia has also been an influence on her peers, her father Michael Harris said.
“No one has shunned her,” Michael said. “Nobody treats her differently because they see her as tall as they are.”
Nekhidia told WABC that she credits her father for giving her guidance — and a strong piece of advice.
“Use my brain as my height, and I’ve stuck with that,” she said. And I surely have used my brain as my height.”
Nekhidia, who graduated with a degree in social work, already has a non-profit organization called The Harris Family Vision Foundation, which supports people with disabilities, according to Inside Edition. The next step in her career is a Masters program at York College at the City University of New York.
The 24-year-old said she hopes her experience can inspire others to give back.
“Don’t let anybody stop you from achieving your dreams,” she told the newsmagazine. “If you want to give back, give back a little bit even if it’s a prayer. Or donate to an organization even if you don’t have the funds to go all over the place.”