Psychology grad honored as “Everyday Hero”

Claire Frenkel, a rowing team student-athlete who graduated last month with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology, is this week’s Central Florida News 13 “Everyday Hero.”

Frenkel was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer in her tonsils at the age of four. The form of cancer was so rare that she was one of the first in the U.S. to have the disease. But Claire refused to let her illness keep her from pursuing her dreams.

“Being sick when I was younger, they kind of always put a limitation on what I would be able to do. I’ve been really fortunate that my parents have been the opposite in that and have said you can do anything you want,” Frenkel said.

“I rowed in high school for Boone High School and decided to be done after high school. I got to UCF and decided that I just had that void in my heart and I was really missing the team dynamic and competitive drive that we had.”

But the stress on her body and the workouts were too much and doctors told Claire she needed to quit rowing. Her coaches suggested making the switch from rower to coxswain.

“I kind of laughed in their face and said I can’t be a coxswain. I’m 150 pounds, I just gained 30 so I could row with the big dogs. They said ‘if you want it you’ll do it,’” Frenkel said.

And she did. Claire graduated from UCF in May, and while she might be stowing her gear, she has her sights set on another goal she’s had since she was a toddler.

“Ever since I had that interaction with my nurses and the staff at Florida Hospital, I have known that I want to make that same impact in other’s lives,” Frenkel said. “My plan after graduation is to go to nursing school. Ultimately I want to do pediatric oncology. I haven’t kept in touch with any of the nurses and I wish I could find them and just give them a big hug and say thank you for everything because they’ve inspired me so much and I don’t think they knew it.”

Read the entire story here.

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