Date of Award


Document Type

USM Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)



First Advisor

Katherine Larson

Second Advisor

T. Clutch Fleischmann

Third Advisor

Justin Tussing


A Rarity of One is a lyrical memoir that reflects what happens when a healthy fourteen-year-old girl contracts a rare, unknown virus that ignites a fire in her brain, singeing all four lobes with inflammation that causes irrevocable damage. It is a story about the experts that dismissed and belittled her symptoms, the loss of her vision and memory, and her subsequent negotiation of her new life after her injury. It is also the story of her remarkable resilience in the face of her loss, her mother’s personal anguish and determination to find circumstances that allow her to thrive, and a lesson about the plasticity of the human brain and the persistence of the spirit to love, create, transform, and learn again.


This is a record is restricted to USM access only.