Alayna Travaglione is an accomplished young woman: graduating this year summa cum laude from Salem State University, starting a master’s degree program this fall in history at the College of Charleston, sorority sister, honorary societies inductee, two-time student studying abroad, and more.
Alayna has done all of this while managing a chronic illness: severe rheumatoid arthritis, which was diagnosed when she was 13. This summer’s knee replacement surgery is only the latest challenge that her arthritis has posed.
Despite questions she had—“What if my joints got worse or something happened with my medications? What if I decide midway I can’t put my body through this anymore?” among others—Alayna committed to studying abroad, just one decision of many to “live my life to the fullest.” She first spent a summer at Oxford University and then Fall Semester 2018 in Athena Study Abroad’s program in Sorrento, Italy at the Sant’Anna Institute .
As Alayna wrote in a blog post for the Arthritis Foundation,
“Studying abroad was one of my biggest dreams and I did what I could to make it come true. I focused solely on my health by meeting with my doctors, attending physical therapy, getting surgeries if I needed them and created a plan for myself that would allow me to accomplish this goal.”