Like her fellow college graduates, Madeline Rannow attended lectures, studied hard and fulfilled internships.
But the Kennewick woman did it all without the benefit of sight.
Four years after graduating from Kennewick High School, Rannow earned a degree in clinical physiology Saturday from Central Washington University in Ellensburg.
Described by those around her as determined and inspiring, Rannow said she worked hard to keep up with her studies and take as much as she could from her professors.
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Her blindness was just another motivation to achieve, she said.
"It's just a part of who I am and it's helped me to grow," she told the Herald.
Doctors found a golf-ball sized tumor in Rannow's head -- between her eyes and behind the bridge of her nose -- when she was 6. It was wrapped around where her two optic nerves cross and also affected her pituitary gland.
The nerves and the pituitary gland were irreparably damaged when the tumor was removed.
Rannow does have some sight in one eye, but it is blurry and she has difficulty identifying colors. The Herald wrote about Rannow in 1999, when she started using a projector and TV to blow up pages of books she wanted to read.
At CWU, Rannow recorded lectures rather than relying on written notes. She found audio readings of her textbooks or electronic editions so she could blow the print up to a size she can read.
"It's a lot more time," she said of her studying.
Vince Nethery, chairman of CWU's Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Health Sciences, said he learned Rannow's story recently while following up with her about her internship with the Kennewick School District.
Nethery was struck by her humility and drive to be the best at whatever she set her mind to, he said.
"She's made quite the accomplishment," he said.
Rannow has tried to live a normal life. She has been interested in health and fitness since high school and that's what motivated her to study clinical physiology, she said. She's an active runner and runs on the Kennewick High track or along the Columbia River when she's home in the Tri-Cities.
Her mother, Kathleen Rannow, said her daughter still is very much like the toddler she observed years ago, inquisitive and active.
"She would take toys apart and break them," Kathleen Rannow said.
Her blindness does require some accommodations, however. She got a black Labrador retriever named Rudy during her junior year on campus after she ran into a glass door. Rudy will walk with her at graduation.
"He's just been the greatest choice I made," Rannow said. "When I got him my whole world changed."
Kathleen Rannow said her daughter no longer runs in the family's Kennewick neighborhood and stopped riding her bike on the Ellensburg campus a few years ago. Those changes happened partially out of Rannow's concern for her safety, but also out of concern for others, her mother said.
Rannow has her sights on something bigger. She plans to volunteer and work during the next year in the Tri-Cities as she applies to occupational therapy school, saying she's committed to working in the health field.
Her family could not be prouder of what she's done, but they aren't surprised.
"It never entered our mind that she wouldn't be able to do this," Kathleen Rannow said.