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Washington Voices

Medical Lake student does it all

Thu., May 26, 2011

Athletics, clubs despite adversity

Graduating senior Megan Lajeunesse’s zeal is contagious, including among her peers at Medical Lake High School.

The only child of parents Jim and Tracie Lajeunesse, she plans to attend Southern Oregon University in Ashland, where she has been awarded a partial academic scholarship and hopes to be a walk-on in basketball. Lajeunesse also was awarded a Western Undergraduate Exchange State Scholarship.

According to her mother Tracie, “Megan just keeps going. She’s played soccer, varsity golf since freshman year and has played basketball every year since eighth grade; they voted her ‘Most Inspirational’ because she just keeps people going.”

Lajeunesse was elected associate student body president this year and served as junior class president last year. “Megan belongs to some clubs and is very involved, wanting to make a difference,” her mom said. “I’m just very proud of her.”

In addition to challenges in athletics and leading students, Lajeunesse has faced personal adversity, not the least of which is having Tourette syndrome, a neurological disorder that causes involuntary movements called tics and other problems.

“There’s no one else in my school with it, but no one has ever made fun of me,” Lajeunesse said. “They seem to embrace it; it’s no big deal.”

Although she shrugged off any social difficulties, she admitted Tourette’s had an impact on her academically. “Tourette’s affected me pretty major my junior year. That was when I started medication to manage my tics because it started affecting my driving and school activities and stuff,” she explained. “Then the medication made me start going to sleep in class, and my grades dropped drastically when I failed a Spanish class and had some D’s. … I think like one teacher knew I had Tourette’s and knew what I was going through. I should have told them, but I can’t do anything about it now.”

Lajeunesse has mild Tourette syndrome and has struggled with chronic migraines, her mother said. She’s had it since she was 7 but was diagnosed just a couple of years ago. “When Megan was younger,” Tracie said, “I just thought she was fidgeting, but finally when she was older, she broke down one day and started crying, then told me how she couldn’t control it. That’s when it clicked in my head and the doctor said she has Tourette’s. The tics have changed over the years, but currently she turns her head to the left and pops her shoulder. It hurts her actually. She takes medication to help suppress it.”

Lajeunesse cherishes the closeness of her family. Her dad Jim said, “Megan’s always been one to try most anything once. When she was younger I used to take her hunting, mainly just walking around in the woods like my dad and I used to do. She has a heart of gold and always wants to help people in whatever way she can. After the death of her grandmother last year, she wanted to write a little something for the memorial service. When she got up and read it, there wasn’t a quake in her voice. She held her composure like no one I’ve ever seen. She has always brought such joy and pride to my heart. No matter what she does in life, she’ll succeed with flying colors.”

After college, Lajeunesse hopes to become a school counselor to help others with their problems.

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