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Seizure star: Yazmina Wahby, beauty pageant competitor and epilepsy advocate

Every issue, we feature an epilepsy star.  An Epilepsy Star is someone who lives with epilepsy and seizures or someone who cares for someone with epilepsy and seizures and who is doing amazing work to raise awareness and improve the wellbeing of the epilepsy community.  This issue's spotlight is on Yazmina Wahby, an absolutely lovely beauty pageant competitor from New Jersey. Her platform is epilepsy awareness. 

Tell us a little about yourself. 

My name is Yazmina Wahby. I am 13 years old and am in the 8th grade. I have a sister named Farida, a half-brother named Grayson who is going to be 2 and another half-brother who doesn't live with me named Gabriel who is 11. I also have an aunt who is 17 years old who is also now living with us.  I am mainly from Jersey City but I live in Bayonne NJ too. 

I decided to compete in pageants in 2019. I competed in East Coast USA where I placed 3rd runner up which meant I earned a city title. I do get to go to compete at Nationals, but I didn't place.  I also did an online competition with Miss. Infinity were I became Miss Infinity Teen New Jersey. In January 2020, I earned the title "Next Level Jersey City Sisters," from Next Level Pageant and Mentoring. I got to meet Miss. America 2019 and Miss. Teen USA 2018!   

Throughout, my platform has been epilepsy awareness and the importance of teachers educating students who have epilepsy in the correct way.  In the future, I am planning to continue to compete and to spread epilepsy awareness.  

How did epilepsy first touch your life?

I was 10 years old when my mother noticed something was wrong. I think it mainly started when I was nine but didn't become more serious and noticeable until I was 10.  When it started out, I was staring off a lot and my teachers thought I was daydreaming but then in March things got worse. I was having moments where I would stop in the middle of conversation and that was happening several times a day. My mom didn't know what to make of it until she saw something on Facebook and she read the article. It was at that moment that she realized that I was having seizures, the staring kind.  My mom, also realized that every time I had one, I wouldn't be able to remember anything before it occurred, which meant that what I was losing what I was learning.

What has your journey with epilepsy been like?

I was seizure free for about 1 year and 6 months. In October 2019, that changed. I started to have seizures again. This brought me mixed emotions. I felt defeated, and I found myself becoming depressed. Partly, I felt this way because that meant I would need to take more medications. My mother and stepdad talked to me and helped me understand that the way I as feeling was normal and that we just had to find the right medication that would work. The next few months weren't easy because I had to change my medicine many times. This meant I was sleepy, feeling depressed and not having energy for anything.  When I became extremely depressed, we had to change my medicine again. These have been some of my down times. However, there is some light to this.

I have a wonderful nurse in my school who is taking classes to understand what I have. He and I talk all the time and he talks to my mother. Although I had these down moments, I find myself trying to share my story to others and that helps.  I also share my story on my Facebook page.

Have you been active in raising awareness for epilepsy in some way? Have you mentioned epilepsy as part of your competition platform?

I have been talking about epilepsy to my teachers in school and with Nurse Joe. He is taking a special program to learn more about epilepsy which will help me and others. I have had to explain to my teachers that I learn differently; therefore they need to be more patient. In my competitions, I talk about epilepsy awareness and how educators need to be educated about it. My mom is a teacher and she is helping in that.  I also stand for knowing what to do for all types of seizures since teachers never know what to expect. I post things on my page about awareness.

I also wear my purple cape that I received from Tiny Super Heroes. I wear it whenever possible to share that I am a superhero and that the color purple stands for epilepsy.

What do you see in the future for you?

My future: I hope to get into the high school of my choice.  I want to become an advocate for others with epilepsy. Of course, I plan to keep my grades up, or at least try my very best. I want to meet others like myself and give them hope and support.  I also hope to become a neurologist.

What do you see yourself doing in the future to help others living with epilepsy?

I am hoping to meet others like myself and do more in bringing awareness. I am hoping to pair up with my mom to help her give workshops in her school about it. I am hoping to do the Halloween Run every year and do fundraisers. I want to be able to uplift others as well.  I want to have students wear purple during awareness months. 


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