A longtime dream of Mid Michigan Community College freshman Kailyn Raphael came true in 2013 when she became a published author.
Sure, the book was self-published on amazon.com and she says not all her thoughts were presented exactly as she would have liked, but she finished the job. One more dream accomplished.
That has been the story of the 30-year-old who has managed to always exceed expectations — even when she was warned it might be too hard for her.
At six weeks of age, Raphael had her first surgery. Doctors drilled a hole in her skull to insert a shunt that would allow fluid around her brain to drain properly. Raphael was diagnosed with hydrocephalus, an excessive accumulation of fluid around the brain. If the fluid is excessive, instead of protecting the brain and spinal cord, it creates harmful pressure on the brain, posing risks to both cognitive and physical development.
Raphael reported that doctors at the time said she could have serious learning problems. But Raphael never quite looked at it that way. She was always one to follow her dreams.
“I was always attracted to art,” she said. “I started doodling in class and went on from there.” Today she is pursuing an associate’s degree from MMCC in visual arts.
Raphael was schooled in a special education program and also required speech therapy and other programs that helped her learn to walk and talk. Special education eventually partnered with regular education as she progressed through high school. She said she can absorb knowledge but is sometimes slow to recall. But as for her health, she said she hasn’t had any problems since she was 8, when another surgery was required to extend the shunt to allow for her growth.
Today, Raphael has a mindset that allows her to chase her dreams, accomplish them and move on to the next. She referred to this self-discipline as the 3 Ds: “determination, dedication and desire.”
“That’s my personal goal and motto,” she explained. “Like everyone else, I make mistakes, but I learn from them. I like school and advancing my knowledge.”
A Mt. Pleasant resident, Raphael took her first class at MMCC six years ago. It was a sketching class. She was interested in following her love of art, but also in seeing if she could be successful in a college environment. She returned as a freshman this fall and took 12 credits in addition to doing what she loves best – drawing and writing on the side.
Raphael admitted she has some difficulties with learning. “I never look at myself that I have a problem or special needs even though deep inside I know I’m not equal.”
Still, she knew when she saw the movie “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers” that she wanted to be published. And that movie gave her the idea. “The funny thing is, I didn’t expect a whole book, let alone a series,” she said.
Yet, that’s just what happened. Her published book, “The Soul of Scarlet Mare,” is actually the second book in a series. But only with this one did she decide to explore ways to get it published. The costs of editing and marketing were too steep, so through amazon.com, she located creativespace.com, a website that enabled her to publish it herself online.
She followed her own 3D philosophy of success. “I had the desire to get published, so I dedicated the time and effort to keep writing.” “The Soul of Scarlet Mare” is dedicated to her husband, Michael, “who never stops believing in me and always reminds me of a simple quote, ‘when you put your mind toward something, you can do practically anything.’”
Raphael said the 332-page book’s message is that people tend to “just judge others on their appearance, rather than to get to know them.”
“For me, through life, I’ve seen people make judgments the wrong way, ” she said, noting that her book is fantasy and fiction. Currently the book is available in paperback and kindle by searching the book’s title on either amazon.com or the Barnes & Noble website.
So what’s her next 3D adventure? There’s no telling for sure, but likely she’ll continue to follow her dreams.
“Either art or writing would make me happy,” she said. “I just keep putting one foot forward after being told it’s too hard. I’ve always tended to exceed expectations – even to my parents and even to myself.”