Do you have any long-term plans for being involved with MSCA?

Absolutely! I plan to keep volunteering and continue spreading the word about the Teens of MS support group. When I get a bit older, I’d like to give back and donate to MSCA.

From an early age, 17-year-old Atlanta Girls’ School junior Alexandra Levine loved science, and over the years that love has developed into a passion for the medical field. “I love learning about how the body works, how disease affects people and populations, and how new technology can help save lives,” she says. Spurred by her love and admiration for her mother, who lives with MS, Alexandra now generously volunteers her time and talents with MSCA.

How does MS affect your life?

MS has always been a part of my life, as my mother was diagnosed when she was 24. My mom is incredibly strong and makes me forget she struggles at times. In 2011, she decided to run a half marathon to show my brother and me that even though life can be difficult, she could still be strong. She is my biggest hero. I decided to start running half marathons in her honor, and as of now I have run three. Having a parent with MS is definitely not easy, whether it’s the physical troubles I see my mom endure or the emotional stress that weighs on the entire family. It is difficult to accept that my mom can be so strong, but on any given day may be unable to get out of bed. The side effects cause her much fatigue and pain. As I’ve gotten older, I have taken on more responsibility to help her and the family. As a “sUber” (sister Uber), I drive my brother to school every day, and to many of his social engagements. As any family who is impacted by MS knows, it takes everyone’s involvement to get through. We are stronger together!

How did you become involved with MSCA?

When my family moved to Atlanta from Chicago in 2008, my mom researched and chose MSCA. After 10 years, it has proven to be a great decision. She loves all the people there, and is extremely grateful for Dr. English, who she has been with since we moved. Last year, I wanted to start getting more involved with medicine and learn more about MS. I had always known my mom had MS, but I never knew too much about it and how it affects other people.

I started by contacting Claire Clements, Director of Development, about ways to get involved. We came up with some great ideas; I have volunteered at multiple events, brought lots of friends to help and raise awareness, and joined the decorating committee for MS Fest. Along with events I wanted to get involved on a personal level. I know how hard it can be for young people who have someone in their life with MS and how helpless you can feel; but we are not alone. Ms. Clements and I started Teens of MS (to learn more mscatl.org/teensofms), a group that offers a safe space to anonymously speak freely about feelings or concerns regarding how MS affects our daily lives.

How has volunteering with MSCA impacted or benefited you and others?

It has been a true delight. During the summer, I had the privilege of interning at MSCA in the Development Department. I got to meet more of the staff, attend a meeting with the Women’s Support Group, and shadow doctors, researchers, and pharmacists. This was an enriching experience; I learned so much from everyone there.

From the first event I attended, I felt a real sense of community and strength. I got to meet some incredible people, learn about their stories, and experienced things that really pushed me out of my comfort zone. These experiences benefitted both me and my friends, as we all felt the impact we were making for such a great cause. Interning at MSCA also taught me so many skills that I will be able to take to college and beyond.