NISH sophomore has aspirations of one day curing her disease

Cyra Sonnier doesn’t allow juvenile diabetes to get in her way of fullfilling her life’s dream of becoming a doctor.

The New Iberia Senior High sophomore has been hell-bent on becoming a doctor since the age of 9, to cure her medical condition. Sonnier also aspires to become an advocate for awareness of the disease, as she helps others like herself, learn how to function.

“We’re all put on this earth with a mission, and we all have to find out what ours is,” Cyra said. “Watch who you allow to be a gatekeeper in your life. You don’t people around you who are negative. I realize not everyone is going to like you, I know that, but I keep reaching for the ones that do.”

Sonnier is having a busy summer.

She has just returned home after serving as only one of two delegates from Louisiana, at The Congress of Future Medical Leaders in Lowell, Massachusetts (about 35 miles outside of Boston).

The National Academy of Future Physicians and Medical Scientists nominated Sonnier, based on her academic achievement, leadership potential and determination.

The Congress is an honors-only program for high school students. The purpose of this event is to motivate and direct the top students in the country, who aspire to be physicians or medical scientists, to stay true to their dream.

“I am confident I will go all the way,” Sonnier said. “It’s not a question of how but when.”

Her mother Crystal said, “to get an idea of who she is, let’s travel back to when she was first diagnosed with the disease. Our whole family spent a week in the hospital learning about juvenile diabetes. Part of that instruction was to face the reality, that Cyra would need insulin injections for the rest of her life.”

Her father, Gerald, added that, “Cyra put the whole family on notice, and informed them that she herself would learn how to administer herself with insulin. Looking back, I’m glad she did. Because I don’t think my wife and I could have done it.”

Cyra said she is very lucky to have family friend Dr. Tara Benjamin as her role model and mentor.

Benjamin, a 1997 NISH graduate, now practices medicine and works in research at Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis.

“Her speciality is high risk pregnancies,’ Cyra said. “My speciality will be diabetes research of course, to find and compelte the research that will allow successful transplants of the pancreas, to cure diabetes.”

Benjamin said that Sonnier is an absolute pleasure to mentor. 

“This young lady has her head screwed on correctly,” Benjamin said. “She knows where she is going, and she is not going to let anything stand in her way,  especially her health.”

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