LA QUINTA, Calif. - Megan Murano belted out the national anthem Wednesday night at the Desert Sands Unified School District Special Education Advisory Committee Award Night.
It was an occasion for parents of special needs kids to honor educators and district employees who go the extra mile for their children.
Murano, 19, was born with Williams syndrome, a genetic condition that can cause developmental delays and learning disabilities.
"Sometimes I try live in each moment as much as I can, but sometimes those moments only last for like a second, because it is not an easy thing when you hit parts that you may not want to," Murano said.
Williams syndrome also causes cardiovascular issues that can get worse with age. Currently, Murano says she has hypertension.
Murano’s family says education wasn’t the only problem at school.
"People with Williams Syndrome are very playful and loving, and as they get older it becomes a little more difficult because they are not as comfortable with their peers," said Linda Garbarini, Megan’s grandmother.
Murano says she was bullied when she attended Palm Desert High School.
"I haven’t been able to get over my fears and stuff ever since high school, because that’s where it all started," Murano said.
Murano plans on attending college and becoming an anti-bullying advocate and a spokesperson for people living with Williams syndrome.
"Everyone should have a chance, especially disabled people. If you don’t know what their life is like behind closed doors, you can’t just judge them by the way they talk or act," Murano said.
She wants people with intellectual disabilities know that there are places of higher education they can attend, something that many parents with disabled kids might not think about.
"I want help other kids understand that yes there are college opportunities for you too," Murano said.
Murano and her family know the transition to college is not going to be easy, but she’s got the courage to live her dreams. She plans on attending UCLA in a couple of years.