Dr. Corinne Grgas is the recipient of the 2023 Homecoming First Chapter Award, which is presented to a recent graduate who has begun a distinguished professional career.
Trevecca alumna and nurse practitioner Corinne Grgas has overcome substantial obstacles to pursue her calling. Well after earning her undergraduate degree, she began experiencing symptoms that led to a diagnosis of muscular dystrophy at the age of 26.
“I was really active. I was in sports my whole life. I ran a half marathon in 2013 and when I was starting to train for a full marathon in 2014, I started to notice that I was having a lot of trouble with fatigue and people were starting to say I was walking funny,” Grgas said.
“It was 2017 when I finally went to a doctor and they ultimately found a type of muscular dystrophy called GNE Myopathy.”
GNE Myopathy is a progressive disease that causes skeletal muscle atrophy and weakness. Grgas now uses a wheelchair to get around and continues to work as a nurse practitioner, doing what she loves. She knew her interests were in medicine from a young age and was inspired by her family and her classes on the Hill.
“I just was fascinated with sports, the human body and I really liked all my science classes. I felt like medicine and nursing was probably the route I wanted to go. Plus my grandmother was a nurse, so I had that influence as well,” Grgas said.
Following graduation she worked in multiple nursing specialties including cardiac, nephrology and ICU and was struck by the frequency of back pain, to the point that when it came time for her doctoral project years later, that was her focus. Through that experience, she met the spine surgeon she works with now as a nurse practitioner. Grgas is determined to not let her disability hold her back in her career. She is not sure what her future will look like, but she intends to keep doing what she loves as long as possible.
“Starting my career, I didn't know I had a disability. And now, going into the future, knowing I do have a disability, I'm not sure exactly what that looks like for me. I'm continuing to treat patients in the clinic setting. I'm still in the hospital treating patients at the bedside,” Grgas said. “I have to take my wheelchair up and ask for help from nurses, but I'm still doing it and that is going to continue to be my plan at this point.”
Coping with her disability has encouraged her to take risks and try new things. And her advice to others facing hardship is to be brave and not be held back by anything.
“I've done a lot of adventurous things since I've been diagnosed, like scuba diving and hang gliding and I've done adaptive skiing, which is skiing from a chair,” Grgas said. “Before the disability, I would've been more afraid, but since I've been diagnosed, I'm actually less afraid because I’m like, what am I afraid of at this point? Ultimately, it's about not letting fear get in the way of you doing what you want to do.”