Student leader opens up about her struggles and strides toward success.

Governor Sean Parnell greets and thanks Bethany Brunelle for participating in the “Choose Respect” campaign commercial. (Photo by Nita Mauigoa)

Governor Sean Parnell greets and thanks Bethany Brunelle for participating in the “Choose Respect” campaign commercial. (Photo by Nita Mauigoa)

Bethany Brunelle laughed, unable to hide her smile.  “Feb. 16 was my three-year anniversary,” she said.

She had a chirpy, jovial attitude.

“I’ve been cancer-free since 2010,” she continued.

It was jarring to hear someone young and lively open up about how she had uterine cancer, still experiences bodily pains and now deals with having diabetes and menopausal hot flashes.

Brunelle then dived into the details of her active life, which are enough to make anyone dizzy.

She is a senior with a double major in Journalism and Public Communications and Music.

She works on campus at the Center for Human Development and part-time in elderly assisted living.

As the president of the UAA Students for Life Club, Brunelle has her hands full with events like the “Adoption Awareness Dinner,” an annual gathering that promotes alternatives to abortion.

She is also the vice president of the campus Muslim Student’s Association and is currently planning a “Hijab for the Day” event.

Brunelle will have a booth in the Student Union to pass out hijabs, a head covering that Muslim women wear as a sign of modesty. Students will experience how Brunelle feels as a Muslim woman wearing a hijab every day.

“I personally do it as a worship to God. I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for God,” she said.

On Sundays, Brunelle could be found at halaqa, where she learns about the religion of Islam and reads the Quran. She teaches Sunday school for children.

After graduation, Brunelle wants to start an event planning business. She also plans to run her own assisted living home and wants to own a food truck.

“I have an entrepreneur spirit, but I’m passionate about journalism, so I’d like to also do some journalism in the middle east,” Brunelle said.

During downtime, Brunelle often listens to the song, “You Must Love Me,” from the movie “Evita.”

“That’s the song Eva Peron sang was when she was dying of cervical cancer. She was a pretty powerful lady, and she had some of the same type of health issues I did. So that song right now is very poignant for me,” she said.

Brunelle’s optimism and ardent spirit calms any storm that may come her way.

“Without hardships, you can’t have a story,” she said. “Without a story, there’s no point in life.”

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