Shortly after birth, Perri had a stroke. She explains, "Even though I was diagnosed with a pediatric stroke as a child, it wasn't until after I had my third child when I was 25 years old that I was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and debilitating chronic pain. I made the difficult decision to quit a well-paying career in retail management because of the chronic flare in new symptoms relating to pre-existing conditions. I soon realized there were not many effective treatments for chronic pain especially for adults like myself that had grown from childhood-related disabilities."
After this career shift, Perri was accepted into the Pharm D Program at The University of Toledo (UT). Strength in academics paired with a passion for helping others pushed her into this rewarding career. Support staff at the University of Toledo explain, “I am always impressed by her listening skills, self-advocacy, and willingness to learn. She is conscientious about always asking questions to understand best to support her personal and student success.” Though she was aware of The Ability Center through the Zoo Day event, it was a referral from Disability Services at UT that connected her more resources.
Perri shares, "They made my home more accessible by getting me a more usable door handle and lock. Before the lock and new door handle, it would take me multiple attempts to open the front door, now it's extremely easy to open, lock and unlock! Also, the food chopper cuts down on meal prep by half the time. I don’t have to worry as much about cutting myself or being as exhausted while trying to cook. Everyone I have interacted with at The Ability Center has been knowledgeable, kind, and supportive. I would love to be more involved and give back to others in need through The Ability Center, just as they have done for myself and my family."
In spring 2021, Perri received a scholarship through the Auxiliary to The Ability Center. She shares, “Without the help of grants and scholarships I would be unable to pursue my dream of a better education. I know that I have the passion, thoughtfulness, willpower, and determination to make the world a better place by making a positive contribution. I feel that the disability community needs to unite more than ever, and we need to empower each other to make a difference in our lives.”
After graduation, she’d like to combine her years of experience in retail and pharmaceutical knowledge and become a retail pharmacist. She genuinely loves to help people, which is the reason why she studies pharmacy. Perri reflects, "Even though I have physical disabilities, I have always told myself that no matter what obstacles may be in your way if you put the mental effort into a goal it can be accomplished."