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Theology student found 'God moments' to help thrive at school

Mytchiko McKenzie understands that people might wonder how she is able to accomplish the things she does every day. But the first-year student at Southern Methodist University's Perkins School of Theology was never going to let her blindness stop her.

"What else would I do?" she asks.

McKenzie, a Methodist, has already done so much that it's easy to forget that she's blind. Still wanting to do much more, and inspired by what she calls "God moments," she's not about to let a disability hold her back.

For her, God moments can be huge, life-changing instances — but not always.

"They can be itty bitty [events] throughout the day," she said.

Whether it's is finding a good parking spot or finding a permanent family to adopt her, McKenzie never fails to remember God's hand in her life.

"I realized that I survived stuff that I shouldn't have, or that things worked out somehow and they shouldn't have," she said.

Toward the end of her high school years, McKenzie attended an intense two-week divinity camp taught by professors from Duke University. While the rigorous courses frightened some into dropping out, McKenzie loved the exposure to complex theological issues and jumped into the material. After the camp, she felt called to work in the ministry.

In particular, McKenzie found her calling in helping those who are often overlooked. Before coming to SMU, she graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi in 2015 with a degree in social work. She spent a few of her semesters there working in facilities and hospitals with people suffering from addictions, anxiety and mental disorders.

Being blind didn't hold McKenzie back. Instead, she learned how to make patients comfortable around her by not "looking like" someone who's blind. For example, she said that by listening to where a voice was coming from, she would face toward the voice and aim her eyes at a particular angle that would almost make direct eye contact.

While such work might have made some feel uncomfortable, McKenzie loved it. She feels most useful when helping others in rough times.

"My calling … has always been to the people who don't quite fit in," she said. "For me, it's not that you don't fit in; it's just that sometimes it takes someone taking a step and meeting you where you are. And, a lot of times, it just takes listening."

She doesn't balk at the extra effort her blindness requires her to commit. Rather, McKenzie loves the opportunity to learn and grow in her faith, gaining the knowledge she'll need to become a chaplain.

She hasn't decided where that calling will lead her after graduation in 2018. The mystery of where she'll end up in life doesn't seem to trouble her, though.

"That'll be up to God," she said.

Hunter Johnson, Blogger, Dallas Morning News

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