Choosing Hope Instead of Fear: Senior Overcomes Heart Disease

Matti Rose wakes up at 5:30 every morning, checks her defibrillator and heads out the door to tackle another day of student teaching.

Her days are long – she spends at least nine hours at Allen Jay Elementary School in High Point teaching, planning upcoming lessons, and building relationships with her students. Then she comes home to grade papers and finish her own homework.

She wouldn’t have it any other way.

Rose, a senior at High Point University, is diagnosed with Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Combined, the two heart conditions cause additional abnormal electric pathways and a thickening of the heart muscle. Daily medications and an implanted defibrillator help maintain her health. Despite the challenges, Rose is a fighter who accomplishes just as much in a single day as anyone else, if not more.

“My heart works harder to pump and move blood throughout my body, so I to be very conscious at all times with any activity that may tax my heart,” says Rose. “My defibrillator monitors my heart functions at all times and is there to protect my heart should it go into an arrhythmia.”

An Inspiring Environment

Rose grew up 30 minutes away from HPU in Kernersville, North Carolina. When her college search began, there were dozens of schools she had to sort through. She had to find somewhere she could thrive.

“I chose to go to HPU because I knew I wanted a small campus and a place where I could grow not only academically, but personally as well,” Rose says. “When I first stepped on campus for a tour, I knew this was the place for me.”

Today, Rose is finishing up her last semester as an elementary education major at HPU. On top of her full-time student teaching internship at Allen Jay Elementary, she’s an active member of Teachers of Tomorrow, the education honor society Kappa Delta Pi and a sister of Phi Mu.

“I want to be a teacher,” says Rose, “and the elementary education program at HPU has been so good for me. Since my freshman year, HPU has provided me with the chance to go into local schools and gain teaching experience. This semester’s student teaching experience has prepared me for now and my future as an educator.”

From Adversity Comes Abundance

Red is an important color for Rose during February, and the entire year for that matter. It’s not about flowers or romance, but a different kind of heart. It’s about American Heart Month, observed during the month of February to raise awareness about heart disease and promote heart healthy lifestyles. It’s about participating in National Wear Red Day on Feb. 6 to change the statistics for women and heart disease.

Despite her heart condition at such a young age, Rose is an advocate for awareness. Her involvement with the American Heart Association’s “Go Red for Women” campaign gives her a platform to share her story. Her sorority’s national philanthropy is the Children’s Miracle Network Hospital, and the HPU chapter of Phi Mu specifically works with Duke Children’s Hospital – that’s where Rose goes to the cardiologist and has procedures done. She says that’s one of the many reasons that she had such a connection with Phi Mu when she went through the recruitment process a few years ago.

“During my sophomore year, I shared my story during recruitment and how it connected me to Phi Mu,” says Rose. “Since then, my mom and I have been involved with Go Red Guilford County. Their mission this year is to make younger people aware of heart disease, so with that I have been able to get some of my Phi Mu sisters to volunteer with me.”

She is confident that because of her time at HPU, she can excel both in and out of the classroom.

“My sisters and friends at HPU have always supported me through this journey, and my health issues with my heart would have made it difficult for me to have attended college and finished anywhere else,” says Rose. “My family feels that HPU has provided me with everything that I needed to grow and flourish into the young woman I have become.”

Rose’s time at HPU will not end in May; she will continue her education through HPU’s fifth-year master’s program.

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