Blind & Homeless Florida Student Graduates From University With Degree in Psychology

May 9, 2019 Updated: May 14, 2019

When Miami teen Myesha Lyles was 17 years old, she didn’t think that her nagging headaches and worsening vision were anything other than a reminder to go and get an eye exam.

After falling down the stairs at home one day, though, a neurological exam revealed that she was suffering from something far more serious than weakening eyesight. She had a rare, non-cancerous tumor called acoustic neuroma in her brain—and although a lengthy 14-hour surgery left her thankfully tumor-free, it also left her without vision or hearing in her right ear.

Those kinds of odds on their own would be enough to dissuade most young adults from suffering through the extra hardship to finish a college degree, but Lyles didn’t just have to learn how to deal with a new disability. When she enrolled in Florida International University, transferring from Miami Dade College halfway through her college education, she was homeless as well; it took a two-hour bus ride to get from her shelter to her classes each day.

Still, Lyles pushed through and refused to let her circumstances stop her from achieving her dreams. And this spring, she proudly graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, entering the world with a four-year degree and a successful internship at Gulfstream Elementary under her belt.

“It’s like a dream come true. All of my hard work really did pay off,” she said. “I really am happy that this day has come.”

Plenty of her success is due to her own hard work and determination, but Florida International University deserves plenty of accolades for their own involvement in her success. The school operates a program called Fostering Panthers Pride, which helps homeless students and students who have recently graduated from foster care by providing resources and support while they get their education.

Thanks to them, Lyles didn’t have to spend her entire education at a shelter—and now, she can pay it forward by making the school proud as she moves out into the real world in the coming years.

Lyles doesn’t plan to stop with her degree. When she first lost her sight, she attended the Miami Lighthouse for the Blind to learn how to cook, clean, and live independently without the benefit of her sight. Now, she’s turned her attention to another passion: contemporary dance.

Through the program Dance Without Limits, she has been raising the money to attend private dance classes, and she hopes to focus her attention on getting a master’s degree now that she’s proven that even the toughest of circumstances can’t keep someone from achieving what they want to.

“My initial goal was to go to work, but when I lost my vision, I [wanted] more for myself,” she said, via WSVN. “Let me take that chance to go to college.”

Her immediate dream is to become a dancer for the Miami Heat. But in the long run, she hopes to start a non-profit for young girls, aimed at helping raise funds to allow anyone interested to express themselves through dance.