Spokane grandma defies odds to get an education

As our Olympians continue their quest for the gold, a Spokane grandmother is continuing her quest for knowledge, proving you can do anything you set your mind to.

It's been a long journey for Tracy Ann Fejeran. She went blind later in life, suffered kidney failure and needed a transplant, and during her first year in college she had a massive heart attack. But none of that stopped her from her dream of getting an education.

Most days you can find Fejeran studying at a small table in her kitchen. But unlike most students, she's doing it without being able to see. She lost her sight due to diabetic retinopathy. It's been a long road, but nothing was going to stop this inspiring woman.

Nearly a decade ago, she made the 6,000 mile trip to Spokane from the small island of Guam. Suffering from renal failure, and spending five years on dialysis, Tracy Ann was placed on a donor list where she could only wait and hope. Then, in 2014, she learned she would be getting a second chance at life.

She was determined to use that second chance to pursue her education. She did, but unfortunately tragedy struck again. During her first year at Spokane Falls Community College, Tracy Ann suffered a massive heart attack and needed bypass surgery to once again save her life.

With all her medical issues and everything she was going through, Tracy Ann's mom wanted her to quit so she could focus on her health. But she kept going.

Although she was unable to be on campus, she once again hit the books. As she slowly recovered at home. Finally she graduated.

But she's not done yet. Tracy Ann is currently a junior at Eastern Washington University, majoring in communications with a minor in disability studies. She's hoping to earn her bachelors degree next spring, then her Master's degree.

Through it all, her family, seeing how hard she worked and how much it meant to her, never lost faith.

It paid off in January with a surprise. Tracy Ann was honored with the Washington State Association of College Trustees "Transforming Lives Award" in Olympia. The award recognized her amazing accomplishments. She's one of just five students, chosen from nearly 400,000 at 34 different colleges.

Through it all, Tracy Ann has persevered. With all of the times she could have given up, she found the strength to carry on and achieve her dreams.

She's the first to graduate in her family and she hopes she can serve as an inspiration to its younger members. After she graduates, she's hoping to work in outreach and awareness in our community.

(story:  Patrick Erickson, KHQ Reporter; photo: KHQ.com)

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