By LISA BARTON
Kate Loveless gingerly folds a transcript from the BYU records office destined to be printed in her hometown newspaper of Worland, Wyom. She smiles as if she can see the faces of all who said it could not be done. Kate got straight ?A?s? last winter.
?My philosophy is simple,? she said. ?I?m going to do it and I?m not going away, so get used to it.?
But the people she knows from home aren?t the only ones she has proved wrong.
At the age of three, Loveless was diagnosed with Optic Gleomias, a form of brain cancer that attacks the optical nerves and often causes blindness. Although doctors, teachers and skeptics would attempt to set limitations for the way she lives her life, close friends and family said they had already seen the beginnings of her unconquerable spirit.
Joan Core, Loveless?s aunt, said doctors told the family to prepare for the worst.
?Her prognosis was pretty bad,? she said. ?But she never complained and dealt well with the pain and all the vomiting.?
Throughout chemotherapy and after-treatment care Loveless never got discouraged, Core said. It was during this time that she coined the phrase that would shape her character.
?I can do this,? Loveless said.
The cancer would ravage her body again within the next 20 years of her life, causing her to lose her hair and nearly all of her eyesight. While kids her age were out playing, Loveless traveled to her local hospital to receive blood transfusions. But she never complained, said Winnie Loveless, her mother.
?You can?t break her spirit,? she said. ?Even when she?s come up against a lot of difficult situations she deals well under the stress.?
Loveless said doctors eventually stopped telling her parents she was going to die because she continued to defy the statistics. When doctors declared her condition as ?stable,? she directed her efforts to academics.
In grade school, Loveless?s feet dangled over the edge of a chair as a teacher told her she was an inconvenience because she needed additional materials to aid her visual impairment. In high school, her peers bounced basketballs off her head and glued her locker shut to make her late for class. Administration told her college wasn?t for everyone, especially for someone with her limitations.
?Kate is her own self advocate,? Loveless?s mother said. ?She sat down with the teacher and told her ?I?m not going away. I want to learn. I can do this.??
Loveless said she remembers it was more than difficult.
She said she was denied the chance to take science classes because it meant extra work for the teachers.
But, Loveless found solace from social rejection and academic adversity as a member of the high school debate team. He coach, Kevin Tonkovich, said she excelled after much effort.
?She was wildly successful,? he said. ?She would come in after school and want to rework her speeches to make them smoother and better. She?s put in the miles.?
Tonkovich said he remembered Loveless demonstrating her “can-do attitude? in many situations ? even as he watched her negotiate her way around the halls of opposing schools.
After high school, she was admitted to Blue River Community College in Missouri, where she found increased support for her academic pursuits. There, she took college level science courses, was the vice president of an academic sorority and graduated with honors.
Then she transferred to BYU to pursue a degree in broadcasting. She is the first blind female to attempt such a feat in the university?s history. Even with support from the communications department, Loveless continues to meet opposition.
?The rest of the school is like ?She?ll never make it,?? she said. ?But I told them I?m not going away, I can do this.?
Now in her third year as a broadcast major, Loveless has made connections in the news world with big names such as Danny Bonaduce of ?The Partridge Family? and Jon Bon Jovi. She said she is making preparations for an internship in radio broadcast and even has set a goal to hike Y Mountain. Most of all, she wants to tell the world that she really is not going away.
?I?m not sure what?s next really for me,? she said. ?But I know I can do it.?