Biology major Michelle Jaskula-Dybka is the single mother of twins and a cancer survivor. She also wants to go on to become a surgeon after she graduates from Roosevelt University on May 10.
A native of north suburban Lake Forest, Ill. and a 2009 graduate of Deerfield High School, the Roosevelt student with big plans for the future did not start at Roosevelt until 2016.
However, she made up for lost time quickly, earning a 3.8 grade point average and serving as a teaching assistant to biology and chemistry professors in spite of considerable obstacles, including two separate scares with tumors.
"Even though she has many responsibilities and has had a number of setbacks, Mischa is one of my best students," said Oluseye Onajole, assistant professor of chemistry at Roosevelt. "This is someone who is talented, determined and tenacious. She never gives up, which is admirable," Onajole said.
"My end goal is to be a cardiac surgeon, and I'm fully prepared to give it my all,"Michelle Jaskula-DybkaBS '19
In fact, the Roosevelt student took unusual but decisive action after doctors found a benign tumor on an ovary and a malignant growth in her chest, choosing alternative healing methods rather than radiation or chemotherapy.
"I didn't know if I'd even get this degree but I knew I had to act quickly to get my health in order," said Jaskula-Dybka, who became a vegan and began drinking Chinese teas and taking in essential oils and vitamins after being diagnosed with mediastinal lymphoma in late 2017.
Since then, the Roosevelt student has received a clean bill of health from her doctors. In addition, Rush University in Chicago recently accepted her for the fall into its competitive Master of Science Cardiovascular Perfusion Program.
"My goal was to find a program that could give me a salary to support myself and my children," said Jaskula-Dybka, who will work with surgeons in the Rush operating room as a heart-lung by-pass machine technician.
It is the next step in a journey to reach the ultimate goal, which is to get into medical school so she can study to become a doctor. "My end goal is to be a cardiac surgeon, and I'm fully prepared to give it my all," she said.
Onajole believes the future is bright for Jaskula-Dybka. "She is one of the few students I know who in spite of all that's happened has continued to deliver. She never gives up and that is the kind of determination one needs to achieve high-end goals."