Jerome Terrell, 22, holds a different value to the word “dedicated” than many other students. His commitment to what he does is best summed up to the location he finds himself on a Saturday afternoon: Cal State Fullerton.
Many students may say taking class on Saturday isn’t a big deal. Even adding a few Saturday club meetings may not get you into CSUF’s student-sainthood, but Terrell’s dedication to what he does goes far beyond what few other students have done to complete their education.
Terrell’s commitment to the Engineering Department forced him to make his way back to school one week after he donated a kidney to his ailing mother who had kidney problems for the last 40 years.
This is his story:
His mother, Regina Bland, was born with premature kidneys, and as a result, developed chronic high blood pressure.
“High blood pressure really isn’t good for your kidneys and it ended up throwing them out,” said Terrell.
Two years ago, things took a turn for the worse when Bland was diagnosed with renal kidney failure.
According to Bland, Terrell was the first to “step up” when she made the announcement about her condition.
“He is my only child and we are very close,” she said. “I was concerned because he is so young. He wanted to give up his kidney right away.”
Over the following months Bland’s condition slowly worsened, and in February she was forced to begin grueling dialysis treatments.
“You sleep for the rest of the day because it is so draining. (Terrell) was always calling me up to see how I was,” expressed Bland.
Terrell was pressed for time when his mother was forced to increase her dialysis treatments three times a week to four.
“The real struggle was that they weren’t doing it fast enough,” Terrell said about the grueling process.
He constantly pushed to get doctors and other workers at the hospital to pass his papers along at a rapid pace in order to qualify him as a donor. It usually takes around a week to get tests to pass, however it took him longer than expected to qualify.
When Terrell was finally cleared for the donation, he began a special diet and stopped drinking in order to improve the health of his kidneys.
“I was a designated driver for three months,” he joked.
Aug. 26, during his second week of CSUF’s fall semester, Terrell underwent a six-hour kidney donation procedure.
Bland said Terrell’s drive to start his recovery showed immediately. She was shocked when Terrell, fresh out of surgery, forced himself to walk through the hospital with his family in order to make sure his mother was OK.
“I was just expecting a phone call,” Bland said.
Terrell’s commitment continued as he went back to school the following Thursday for an InterClub Council Meeting.
Terrell said the reason he returned to school so soon was because he didn’t want to fall behind.
His mother was amazed by how much support he had from his classmates who offered to carry his books and give him rides to class.
Terrell, now president of the American Society of Civil Engineers CSUF chapter, sits as chair of the Engineering InterClub Council, and he holds membership to the National Society of Black Engineers and the Society of Women Engineers (he chuckles about the former when he brings it up).
Terrell is able to cope with the challenge of balancing everything he does on campus.
“You’ll notice that sleep isn’t that important,” he said, followed with laughter.
Barzin Sharifi, 26, a civil engineering major, commented on Terrell’s character and how smart he is.
“He does really good in every class,” said Sharifi. “He’s the nicest guy and everyone really likes him. He’s a helpful and caring person.”
Now, two months after the surgery, Terrell and his mother continue the road to recovery.
Bland, recently off dialysis and hoping to get back to work soon, said she owes her life to her son. She now speaks with the exuberance of someone who was given a second chance.
“He is the best son that I could ask for. I gave him life and he gave me life back,” she said.
Terrell, on the other hand, doesn’t feel quite as strong as before but claims he is almost there. With the rate at which he is expected to recover, it shouldn’t take long at all.