Purpose, not pity

Published 3:44 pm Friday, September 4, 2009

By Staff
No matter the problem, eastern North Carolina could use more people like Elizabeth Shepherd when it comes to solving a problem.
Shepherd, diagnosed as suffering from HIV after she was raped and beaten, is an advocate for HIV/AIDS carriers. Instead of wrapping herself in pity after contracting HIV, Shepherd decided to work with others who suffer with HIV/AIDS and educate others about the disease. Not that there weren’t some moments of self-doubt and self-esteem issues.
“I just knew then that my life was over,” she said about when she first learned she contracted HIV. “My life was never going to be the same — if I lived.”
Shepherd took steps to get her life — spiritually, mentally and physically — back in order. Since then, her mission is to make sure rural residents have access to the HIV/AIDS services and programs they need to live — and to live productive, meaningful lives.
Instead of letting her problems rule her life, Shepherd chose to use her problems as a springboard to improving her life. When life handed her a lemon, she chose to make lemonade with it.
Shepherd is working toward a degree in community health education and promotion at East Carolina University. Although she’s on track to get that formal degree next spring, Shepherd has been providing health education to the community and promoting HIV/AIDS awareness for several years as a HIV/AIDS health educator for Metropolitan Community Health Services.
Shepherd elected to use her problems as stepping stones to a life with purpose, not as burdens to keep her down in life.
Eastern North Carolina needs more people who don’t let setbacks overcome them but overcome those setbacks.