By Tatiana Therassan
Sixteen years ago, at the age of thirteen months, I suffered third degree burns on my left arm. At the time, the physical pain was the main aspect of the injury that I had to deal with. But as I get older, while I feel no physical pain, the emotional pain is not easy to describe.
I never really thought much of my scar as I grew up within my family circle because they had grown accustomed to it. I started to realize there was something different about me when I started attending school. Kids would stare or ask what had happened to me, because of this I became very aware of my burn and what made me stand out. As a result, I began to wear only long-sleeve shirts and I would only wear bathing suits around the closest family members.
Destiny put me in contact with Carrol Ann Stankovitz, a volunteer with the Children’s Burn Foundation of Florida, Inc., and an employee at Boca Raton Fire-Rescue Services Department. Meeting this woman would change my attitude toward my burn forever. She convinced my mother to let me attend a four-day camp at the Florida’s Elks Youth Camp in Umatilla, Florida that was especially for children with burns. For the first time I felt comfortable in my skin because here I did not feel different. Being around other kids like me, I learned to accept myself and not let my scar affect me emotionally anymore. I continue to attend the camp almost ten years later. I volunteer and try to help other young girls understand that outward beauty is not only skin deep, but instead, that our appearance is a reflection of who we are on the inside. Nowadays, I am a regular teenage girl who wears short-sleeve shirts, tank tops, and bathing suits regardless of who is around.
I am not going to say that I am happy that I was burned, but I can say that it happened for a reason. My disfigurements gave me a strong sense of character and an even stronger sense of myself. As a result, I have gained a confidence that enables me to go after my goals, even in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles. I also use my story to always remind myself that that I should never be afraid to be different. Among many factors, I believe that these qualities would make me a great candidate for the Florida State University. I welcome the opportunity to expand my wings, even the burned one, by becoming a member of the Seminole community.