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Pure grit

Grenfell Campus student overcomes near-fatal illness to graduate

special feature: Class of 2020

Part of a special feature celebrating and recognizing the Class of 2020 at Memorial.

By Melanie Callahan

Warren Lushman’s story of graduation from post-secondary education is one of singular determination.

Mr. Lushman, a Corner Brook resident, is in Grenfell Campus’s graduating class of 2020, having completed a bachelor of arts with a major in history and double minor in history and classics.

For a long time, completion of a university degree seemed inaccessible to Mr. Lushman.

Five per cent chance

In December 2009 he was admitted to hospital where he remained for almost 300 nights, a third of them in the pediatric intensive care unit. Sixty of those he spent on life support.

“I had a blood disorder that was labeled hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH),” said Mr. Lushman.

“It started in the blood and then spread throughout the body. In 2012 I had a relapse and learned I have juvenile arthritis, labeled Stills. During my time in hospital there were some complications, which included a bleed on the left side of my brain. I was given a five per cent chance of living.”

“I knew it was going to get better”

Thankfully, Mr. Lushman beat the odds and defied death.

But his journey was all uphill. It included overcoming some extraordinary challenges. He to learn how to walk and talk all over again. He had to learn to read; there was a lot of memory therapy.

“I had a supporting family and medical staff behind me. I had a positive mind set. No matter how bad it was in the moment, I knew it was going to get better.”

Warren Lushman enjoying a sunny day.
Photo: Submitted

Motivated and determined, Mr. Lushman made it through his degree with a lot of personal effort and and support from Grenfell’s Learning Centre.

“The Learning Centre truly helped with any learning issues that I had in university,” he said.

“My lingering issues are linked to reading and writing. I had an aid in classes taking notes because I was unable to keep up. No matter the issues that I had in any classes, I never fell behind. I would work twice as hard or do things in advance. If a paper was due at the end of a month, I would have it written two weeks in advance and had it revised by the Writing Centre.”

Mr. Lushman says Barry Morgan, his Grade 8 social studies teacher, inspired in him a love of history. Grenfell professors, particularly Drs. Stephen Blackwood, Carol King and Edwin Bezzina, helped shape his degree.

“The only limitation to your own goals is yourself.” — Warren Lushman

Now, he’s headed into the bachelor of education program in the fall with the ultimate goal of completing a PhD. He says his undergraduate experience taught him that he enjoys being in front of a class and teaching and talking about history.

“In addition, I like helping people and I want to be able to help people realize that the only limitation to your own goals is yourself. If you believe you can do something, it is achievable. I want to be a living testament to that: teach history and show that anything is achievable.”

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