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Fort Worth Student Overcomes Obstacles

  • Life for Kaetlin Marsh, who recently graduated from Texas Academy of Biomedical Sciences (TABS), has not always been easy.

    She lost her stepfather, whom she considered her father, to suicide a week before Christmas in 2019. She dealt with financial and food insecurity. She took on a parenting role for her younger siblings. She endured a lengthy hospitalization for an eating disorder.

    At her lowest, Marsh felt she lost control. 

    “Honestly, the ways I coped with the loss at first weren’t exactly the healthiest,” she said. “Dad’s loss made me feel like my world had been wrenched out from under my feet, and I strove to find something stable.”

    School became her focus. Marsh numbed the pain and confusion by studying deep into the night, earning the highest grades of her high school career. She also began to restrict her food intake and went into overdrive keeping the house as neat as possible. 

    “I thought that if I was able to please people, maybe they wouldn’t leave me like my dad did,” she said. “I know it wasn’t exactly his fault, but emotions don’t always respond to logic.”

    In March of 2020, Marsh was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa and OCD. She was overcome at first with embarrassment and disbelief. Marsh’s mother checked her daughter into an intensive treatment center to get the professional help she needed. 

    Marsh learned to unpack her emotions in a healthy, less destructive way and also learned there is more to life than good grades and pleasing others. She reconnected with her faith and began to find peace.

    “If I keep on striving to please others, in a sense, live my life for others with no thoughts to any of my needs, I would not be able to serve others effectively,” Marsh said. “I learned that my needs matter, too.”

    The TABS family also stepped up to help her. Since Marsh’s mother had to leave her job while her daughter was in treatment, finances became strained. Lead counselor Tammy Asbury helped provide the Marsh family with food and resources, sharing information on food pantries and even delivering groceries at times to their home.

    Advanced Placement physics teacher Jay Kurima partnered with local businesses to get entire meals delivered during the time that COVID-19 initially hit. He also sent over books, which contained grocery store gift cards for Marsh, (she’s an avid reader) and her four younger siblings. Kurima also helped Marsh get a tutoring position, which helped support the family. Two of her teachers, Helen Walsh and Amber Reeder, also delivered food and clothes.

    “I didn’t ask for any of this help, but my TABS community is very perceptive,” Marsh said. “I am indebted to their interventions.”

    Marsh finished high school on a high. Always active in extracurriculars, she created and chaired the TABS Student Volunteer Committee in 2020. She graduated as a National College Match Finalist and earned her associates degree from Tarrant County College, as well as a Patient Care Technician certification.

    Next is the University of North Texas in the fall, where she plans to major in psychology with a goal of becoming a pediatric psychiatrist. Her younger siblings, other interactions with children and the help she received all play in part in her future ambitions. 

    “I want to help others find a way out of their dark holes,” Marsh said. “Although it is hard to see when you’re in the midst of these emotions, there is a way out. I want to help guide other children and teens to the new, beautiful life I am discovering every day. They deserve to discover it, too.”

    Marsh wouldn’t wish the last 18 months on anyone. What she dealt with and how it changed her did give life new meaning and purpose. For that, she’s grateful. 

    “Although I would never ask for my father to die, or to develop anorexia, I have learned a lot through these experiences,” she said. “I would have never been able to learn these things on my own. I have a lot of other people to thank for my successes. Dad, I love you. And I hope you’re proud of the person you raised, and that I am now becoming.”