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Brandi Abernethy: Nursing student, patient, single mom

When she was growing up in St. Petersburg, Florida, Brandi Abernethy was so often sick from her illness that school officials demanded she be home-schooled through her middle and high school years. But Abernethy didn’t let that put a damper on her academic or civic achievements—or, for that matter, her social life. She graduated a semester early, all the while volunteering for her local Sickle Cell Association—at one point becoming the “poster child,” raising awareness about the disease throughout the community. She’s now fulfilling her dream to become a hematology-oncology nurse while raising her four-year-old son.