When you're sick as a college student, it can be hard to convince yourself to go to class, but not for YTI Career Institute graduate Courtney Lambert. In her own words, she doesn't like excuses.

For that reason, Lambert achieved perfect attendance and a 4.0 GPA in her two years at YTI Career Institute, all while attending her weekly dialysis appointments. Lambert has had focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) since she was 2 years old. According to Nephcure Kidney International, FSGS is a disease that affects the kidney's filtering units and causes scarring. The scarring leads to damage and, ultimately, failure of the kidney.

For three years, Lambert has been on the kidney transplant list, but rather than letting her illness affect her negatively, she used it to encourage her to work harder. She enrolled in the medical assisting program at YTI Career Institute in 2014 because her illness sparked an interest in working in the medical field.

Since that point, she has worked hard to make sure she was doing her best in all aspects of her education, including clinicals, her favorite part of her time at YTI Career Institute. In clinicals, nursing students work with patients and do hands-on work related to what they learned in class.

"I don’t like excuses," Lambert said. "If I'm able to do something, I’m going to do it."

Lambert's determination and upbeat nature in the face of adversity caused Gloria Ward, a professor in the medical assisting program, to nominate Lambert for the President's Award. The award is given to one student in each program for their hard work and upbeat attitude in the classroom. Students must be nominated by a professor to be considered for the award, and then a committee of administrators decides which student from each program will receive the award based on the recommendations.

Ward nominated Lambert because she was always in class and helping others, no matter how difficult her treatment that week happened to be. Lambert said her weekly dialysis appointments were very draining and exhausting, but Ward never saw Lambert waver in her work.

"She made it her mindset that nothing got in her way, and you don't see that very often with students," Ward said. "She's an outstanding student who is well-liked by all her instructors and fellow classmates."

The William Penn Senior High School graduate said she was honored to receive the President's Award. She said she felt as though her hard work during her time at YTI, which ended Tuesday evening when she graduated, had paid off.

Upon graduating, Lambert said, she plans to focus on work before returning to school to become a registered nurse. Though her years at YTI were draining when coupled with her kidney disease, she encouraged others who were struggling not to give up.

"Don't let nothing stop you," Lambert said. "No matter what you're going through, you can always achieve your goal."

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