2016 Archives

‘God moments,’ determination help blind student thrive at SMU

Excerpt

The following is from the March 10, 2016, edition of The Dallas Morning News.

March 15, 2016

By Hunter Johnson

Mytchiko McKenzie understands that people might wonder how she is able to accomplish the things she does every day. But the first-year student at Southern Methodist University’s Perkins School of Theology was never going to let her blindness stop her.

Mytchiko McKenzie with Dylan
Mytchiko McKenzie with Dylan.
(Photo courtesy of The Dallas Morning News)

“What else would I do?” she asks.

McKenzie, a Methodist, has already done so much that it’s easy to forget that she’s blind. Still wanting to do much more, and inspired by what she calls “God moments,” she’s not about to let a disability hold her back.

For her, God moments can be huge, life-changing instances — but not always.

“They can be itty bitty [events] throughout the day,” she said.

Whether it’s is finding a good parking spot or finding a permanent family to adopt her, McKenzie never fails to remember God’s hand in her life.

When she was still a child in south Mississippi, McKenzie and her younger sister Deanna hopped from foster home to foster home. During that time, McKenzie suffered from retinitis pigmentosa, which severely hampered her vision and gave her almost no depth perception.

While up for adoption, the young sisters faced the possibility of a permanent split when someone became interested in adopting Deanna. Before that could happen, there was a God moment: At a picnic for foster children and potential parents, a couple noticed McKenzie trying to get the attention of some ducks.

“I remember my dad being like, ‘Here, why don’t you give the ducks something to eat,’ ” she said with a smile, “and he gave me some animal crackers to feed the ducks.”

This couple soon fell in love with the girls and adopted them both.

Despite her terrible vision, McKenzie was not an idle child. With her adoptive parents’ encouragement, she played T-ball, marched in the high school band, trained in aikido and learned to ride a bike with her dad’s help.

“I had no depth perception, so [my dad] pushing me absolutely terrified me,” she said.

All that activity and a loving family still couldn’t prepare her for the trauma of going completely blind in 2010.

“I went blind overnight, two weeks before finals my freshman year in college,” she said.

Whereas before she was able to make out shapes and colors and have a general idea of what things looked like, McKenzie woke up one morning able to distinguish only light and darkness. She failed her classes.

A serious conversation with God was in order, she said.

Read the full story.