With daughter’s help, woman won’t let MS stop college dream

Published 9:48 am Monday, August 15, 2016

MANKATO — Graduating from college has been Angela Hermel’s lifelong goal.

Turning 40 this month, she’s overcome consistent obstacles to get as close as she now is — on track to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies from Minnesota State University in spring 2017.

On top of the typical demands a college student faces, Hermel is a parent, works a job and lives with multiple sclerosis — an unpredictable disease affecting the flow of information within the brain.

Email newsletter signup

Living with MS means trying to manage debilitating flare-ups. So while her fellow students might worry about how far they have to walk to class on the coldest days of winter, Hermel worries about whether the extreme cold will cause a flare-up bad enough to keep her from class entirely, the Free Press reported.

Thankfully, these flare-ups causing vision problems and extreme fatigue have become less frequent since Hermel found the right treatment plan for her.

“I try not to let MS run my life,” Hermel said. “I’m cognizant of the risk factors like extreme heat or extreme cold.”

As is the case with many people living with MS, she also doesn’t have to face the disease on her own. Her daughter, Kayla Perry, 19, stepped in over the years to help Hermel with her challenges.

The two see themselves as a team, not just in dealing with Hermel’s MS, but also with their studies. The mother and daughter are both students at Minnesota State University.

Their mutual presence on campus has led to some interesting encounters.

“One time we had lunch together and a guy started hitting on us thinking we were sisters,” Perry said with a laugh.

Even with the mix-up, Perry said she’s proud of how close her mother is to reaching her goal. That pride extends to a recent scholarship Hermel received from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s scholarship program. The program rewards students who have MS or help care for a loved one with MS.

“She deserves it,” Perry said of her mother’s achievement. “We’ve been through a lot and she’s been through a lot herself.”

Hermel said she was ecstatic when she received the $2,000 toward her tuition.

“I was jumping for joy,” she said. “I came back from my lunch hour and had to share with everybody at work.”