PORTLAND, Ore (KPTV/CNN) - A young Portland woman will fulfill one of her dreams on Thursday night, six years after the Children's Cancer Association named her a Community Hero.
Kiera Brinkley, 20, is a quadruple amputee. A bacterial infection known as Pneumococcal Sepsis forced her to have a quadruple amputation when she was just 2 years old.
For the next week and a half, Brinkley's eyes will be preparing for a national exam to become a certified medical assistant.
She's been studying like crazy.
"Like stupid crazy," Brinkley said.
Before she takes the text on Feb. 21, Brinkley will fulfill a dream she's always thought was possible.
For the past nine months, she's gone through an intense program at Concorde Career College that taught her how to take vitals, do EKGs, give injections and draw blood.
On Thursday night, she will graduate.
"I'm really nervous. It's a completely new step. It's a new career and just ... fresh start. I don't know if I'm good with those yet," Brinkley said.
The program's director Stephanie Suddendorf said she knew the first day of orientation that Brinkley wouldn't let anything stand in her way.
She's been overcoming obstacles all her life.
"She was very attentive, and her eyes were lit up. And the smile on her face just told me that she was very capable and she would be very engaged as a student," Suddendorf said.
Brinkley got her first taste of real-world experience late last year through an externship with ARCpoint Labs.
John Greiner said he learned quickly that Brinkley has a great ability to put patients at ease.
"We learned that people can do just anything they want. That's the way Kiera is. She sets goals for herself. She'll have a great career in whatever she chooses. And nothing holds her back," said Greiner, operations manager for ARCpoint Labs in Northeast Portland.
Brinkley said she hopes to soon land a job in the medical field and continue to work toward becoming a nurse.
None of it would have been possible without the Children's Cancer Association, she said.
"CCA is part of the main reason why I went back to school for medical assisting," Brinkley said. "Just seeing all that they do to better the lives of children that are sick during that time in their lives. It just inspired me to go be in a field that I could have the same effect on the kids."
CCA was also a big reason why Brinkley has continued to dance, she said.
In 2012, Brinkley joined Polaris Dance Theatre, a contemporary modern dance company based out of Portland. Dancing has been a passion of Brinkley's since she was young.
"That was my way of expression. It was my voice for the people who really didn't know how to communicate with me at the time," Brinkley said.
Brinkley plans to continue to perform and choreograph dances as she pursues her medical career, she said.
Thanks in large part to CCA, Brinkley believes anything is possible, she said.
"CCA is seriously like a magic worker. They make kids' dreams come true," Brinkley said.
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