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Sep10WedAlsha Wilson was focused on her law studies until a brush with blindness put her future at risk. September 10, 2014 by Ken Ramstead
It was just another day in class for law student Alsha Wilson. “I'd just settled in as the instructor started his lecture,” she recalls, “and I'd started to take notes when I realized that I couldn't see the board.”
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The young woman tried moving closer, then shifting sideways and finally going right up to the front of the class, but she still couldn't make out the professor's notes.
Alsha had experienced headaches and vision problems that had gotten progressively worse over the last couple of weeks. At first, she tried to ignore them but now she had to face a hard fact.
Was I losing my sight? she asked herself. Was I going blind?
If the Robe Fits …
Born in Bermuda to Salvation Army pastors, Alsha accompanied her parents wherever their postings took them, be it Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia or Ontario.
“I moved around quite a bit with my parents,” Alsha recalls, “and it was my faith in God that helped me through each new posting. Every few years, I had to relocate to somewhere new, make new friends, start at a new school, discover a new community. It was a challenge—I never knew what to expect—but it made me adaptable and gave me a take on the world in a way that few experience.”
From an early age, Alsha dreamed of becoming a lawyer, though the sources of her inspiration were decidedly unconventional. “I grew up watching Perry Mason and Matlock,” she laughs. “I wanted to be just like them! And whereas many kids outgrow their television interests, these two strong, honest and forthright fictional characters stayed with me.”
Her love of the law intensified during high school, culminating in her first moot court, where she first experienced being in a lawyer's shoes—and robe.
“I was so nervous, I lost my notes in the too-large sleeves of the robe I'd had to wear,” she says. “I'd never been so embarrassed as I fumbled around, though the judge kept his composure. I had to step away from the podium and disrobe out of sight. Fortunately, I managed to retrieve my notes and we won the case—with the assistance of the practising lawyer on hand.
“That moot court confirmed my desire to wear that black robe and white wig. Now, though, before I step into the court, I make sure the robe fits!”
Alsha started her legal studies at Carleton University in Ottawa, then moved to Bermuda College and, through their affiliate program, continued at the University of Kent in England.
She was born with a visual impairment that caused her to experience headaches, but as she'd aged, they'd subsided, though she had always been mindful of her eyesight. But nine years of extensive law-school studies and 10-to-12-hour days spent reading in the law library seemed to be taking their toll.
“My childhood headaches returned with a vengeance, certain books and papers were harder to read and, in certain classes, I had difficulty reading the chalkboard,” she says.
Alsha thought that the symptoms, while worrisome, could be managed. But as the headaches became more intense, an appointment with her ophthalmologist brought a grim diagnosis.
“In order to alleviate the stress on my eyes and the headaches, the doctor advised me to stop my law studies altogether because of the excessive reading,” Alsha says. “I was stunned. I was in my last year of law school and I felt as if the goal I had set my life on was slipping through my fingers.”
“In His Hands”
Rather than tell her family just yet, Alsha followed her doctor's instructions and started to modify her work patterns. “I took naps whenever I could, I took study breaks and I tried to avoid working at my computer for long stretches,” she says. “But I didn't immediately see any improvement.”
Just as important, Alsha prayed, but not as she had prayed growing up.
“I'd always prayed, I've always known that God was in my corner,” Alsha says. “But I'd always known what I was praying for. Now, my prayers were just as focused as they had ever been, but with less of an end result in mind. I prayed for my eyesight, of course, and I would do all I could to get better, but what became of me would be with God. I checked any ambitions I had, and I left myself with Him. It was very humbling, but very liberating. I was in His hands.”
Gradually, the headaches lessened in their intensity until one day, Alsha realized she was headache-free. And she could see clearly again.
“I could get back to my life.”
As much as Alsha thrived in law school, practising law was even better than she could have imagined, and now she specializes in civil litigation at Canterbury Law Limited in Hamilton, Bermuda.
“Civil litigation is a fast-paced environment, and no two days are ever the same,” she says, “but every day is better than the last and I wake up wondering what new challenge will come my way.”
Alsha loves meeting new clients and helping them work through their problems.
“I want them to find a resolution, so that they'll be content at the end of the day.
“I try to keep a positive attitude,” she continues, “and if they request prayer, I'll pray with my clients before the start of each meeting and before we go into court. I truly feel that if we put our faith in God, things will work out. And I am living proof.”