Graduating Greyhounds 2014: Kasey Seymour
Senior Kasey Seymour looks forward to starting her career as an operations analyst at Morgan Stanley in Baltimore, living life to the fullest despite debilitating disease
April 28, 2014
Spotlight on: Kasey Seymour, ‘14
Hometown: Baltimore, Md.
Degree: B.B.A. - International Business
Favorite professor: Roger Kashlak, Ph.D, professor of management and international business
Campus involvement: Financial Management Association, Relay For Life, Make A Wish
Doctors told Kasey Seymour she wouldn’t live to see her 21st birthday. The crushing news came when, at age 4, she was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, a rare, incurable genetic disease that severely affects the lungs and digestive system.
But Kasey has defied the odds, and now she’s a leading voice in the effort to raise awareness about the disease and ultimately find a cure.
Kasey sat down with Loyola magazine to discuss her perseverance, determination, and what she’s looking forward to in the future…
What’s it like living with cystic fibrosis?
It affects everything. It has damaged my lungs to the point where everyday activities are very difficult. I can’t walk up a flight of stairs, I can’t walk across campus that well. Everything has to be scheduled and regimented in order to fit in the treatments I need to stay healthy. I take 38 oral antibiotic pills per day, and I spend an hour doing physical therapy and 30 minutes with nebulizers to help my breathing.
My lung capacity is so low to begin with, so my immune system is compromised because of all the infections I’ve had and all the medications I’m on. Any little cold or flu can set me back so much. For most kids it’s three days of missed class, but for me it could be upwards of a month of missed class and not being able to go out and see my friends, and having to move home.
It touches on every aspect of my life and it limits what I can do. I can’t go out very often, I can’t be on sports teams. I’m constantly playing catch-up with my studying. It’s been an isolating experience.
How did you become a spokesperson for the pursuit of a cure?
I had that discussion with my parents when I was pretty young, that I had to take an active role in fighting this. And my parents have been involved with the Maryland chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation since I got diagnosed.
The first time I spoke publicly was my freshman year of high school in front of my 500 classmates at St Paul’s School For Girls. A lot of my friends from elementary school went to other private schools in the Baltimore area, and they invited me to speak. My sophomore year I spoke at the Maryland chapter’s main fundraising event and it ballooned from there. This past spring break I gave a keynote to 1,500 doctors at the National Anesthesiology Conference in Florida.
Initially I really didn’t like public speaking, but there aren’t that many people to stand up and speak about CF—only 30,000 people in the U.S. are living with the disease. So if I want a cure, if I want to be able to get married and have a full life and have kids, it’s up to me to stand up and do something about it and raise awareness for it.
It’s always difficult to get up and speak about something like this, but I don’t think it’s a burden because there are so many people with CF who are so much sicker than me. I’m not that sick yet, so I believe it’s my responsibility to stand up and speak for them. It’s something that I know I have to do.
What are your plans after graduation?
I’ve been fascinated with business since high school when I was fortunate enough to intern at the manufacturing business where my dad worked. Now I get to turn that fascination into a profession. I accepted a position as an operations analyst at Morgan Stanley in Baltimore, and I’m very excited to start this next chapter of my life, something that some people said I might never be able to do.
My education played a huge part in where I am today. I definitely wouldn’t be working for Morgan Stanley if I wasn’t coming out of Loyola.
Who gave you support while you were a student at Loyola?
My parents instilled a work ethic in me from the time I was diagnosed. They made sure I didn’t give up, made sure I studied hard and was involved in the right things so when I got to college and through college I was prepared for a life of my own, to work and live in the real world.
Dr. Kashlak has been my go-to person at Loyola who’s helped me make sure I could graduate on time. He was so much more than just my academic advisor. He checked in on me on a regular basis and all the times I got sick he’d ask what he could do to help. He would contact my other professors to let them know I’d be out of class for a few days, and he helped me extend deadlines and get caught up on credits.
I am so grateful for everything he did for me.
Also, the office of disability support services has been a tremendous support throughout my four years here. They made sure I had housing on a floor I could walk to reasonably, and they got me a parking pass for the Jenkins lot to cut down the distance I needed to walk to get to class. They did so much more, too.
And I wouldn’t have gotten here without my friends. They are my rock.
What’s your long-term prognosis?
My life expectancy changes every few years, but it’s always a really terrible young number. It’s extremely frustrating; the uncertainty of disease is the most difficult thing for me to deal with. Right now my life expectancy is 40, but I don’t pay too much attention to the prognosis. I’m going to live my life and do what I want and I’m going to stay healthy as best I can and I’m not going to think about that number because it’s always changing.
Knowing that I’ve reached that milestone, it’s a sigh of relief but I know that the work isn’t done because 40 is not good enough for me. I want 80, I want 100, and I’m hoping along the way I can help other people realize this is not the end of the road.
Kasey and her family have helped raise nearly $2 million for cystic fibrosis research since she was diagnosed. They continue to work closely with the Maryland chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation to plan events and fundraise. The chapter recently raised $500,000 during its largest annual event and is organizing numerous fundraising walks in May 2014. Learn more about CF and how you can donate, raise awareness, or volunteer.
To read more stories about this year’s Graduating Greyhounds, visit our 2014 Commencement page.