APSU senior mechanical engineering technology major Ethan Gibson was met with an extraordinary struggle during his transition from high school to college.
Unlike a majority of his classmates, Gibson had to manage his adjustment to college while battling a rare lung disorder known as cystic fibrosis or CF.
“At first it was a little awkward being a freshman in college and having health issues, but I was able to turn my experience around quickly,” Gibson said.
Gibson joined APSU’s chapter of Sigma Phi Epsilon his freshman year and soon found the connections he was searching for.
“In addition to my health issues I had no one here with me; all my friends dropped out, Gibson said. “Thanks to Sig Ep I was able to play soccer again, like I did in high school, and I was able to be close to a lot of people which is what I really wanted.”
APSU’s Office of Disability Services also provided support to Gibson by offering a safety net to his grades when his health took a turn for the worse.
In the middle of his freshman year, Gibson’s illness required him to take IV medicine and attending class became difficult.
Gibson said he recalls worrying about his missing assignments and watching his grades drop dangerously low.
“The professors were more than willing to help me out, which was awesome,” Gibson said.
With the help of the professors and ODS, Gibson was able to get back to where he needed to be after recovering from his setback.
In addition to academic victory, Gibson recovered so well that his lungs were functioning as they were his senior year of high school, when he was able to play soccer.
“That’s amazing because generally when you lose a lot of lung function you don’t get it back, it is just gone forever,” Gibson said. “So it was the best victory I’ve ever had.”
Living with the disorder for so many years has inspired Gibson to inform others about CF in an effort to gain support for those fighting it.
“When I was younger I had a really hard time talking about it because it really bothered me,” Gibson said, “But as I got older I realized how important it is to tell others about it because the more people know the more they can help.”
On Thursday, March 17, Sig Ep took their support to the next level and hosted an event to raise money for the CF foundation in honor of Gibson.
While it was kept secret from him for a while, Gibson was excited when he finally learned about it and saw it as another opportunity to spread the word.
“I was really proud of them and honestly I had no idea that they cared that much about me to do something like this,” Gibson said. “I was in complete shock and awe, but that is just the type of guys they are, and I’m really glad they did it.”
With his doctors and medicine so close, APSU is perfect for Gibson because his medical condition is taken care of and he can focus solely on school.
As graduation approaches, Gibson hopes to find a job in an engineering firm and eventually make it back to his home state, California.
“CF has never kept me from doing anything other than not being able to go places because I was sick,” Gibson said. “It has never hindered me from being able to take care of myself or just live life and I plan to keep it that way.”