Most high school kids don’t think about not being able to see over library shelves, but it’s just part of everyday life for Sheetal Bahadursingh, just like the stares and teasing. It’s all part of the territory for people with achondroplasia, commonly called dwarfism.
“I used to care about when I was young but now I’m like, it doesn’t matter, just let them think what they want to think,” Sheetal said. “It does hurt a little, but I’ve gotten used to it over the years.”
Underestimate Sheetal at your own peril. This sophomore at Cooper City High School is the personification of the saying, “good things come in small packages.”
“They shouldn’t judge others based on the size, you get to know them by their personality and who they are,” Sheetal said. “I’m just like all of you guys, I can do the same things.”
Her friends and classmates say Sheetal is the kid who’s always smiling, always making them feel better. Her feet may not reach the floor, but she’s no pushover.
“She’s sassy, I love it, she’s like very sassy and savage, she doesn’t take anything from nobody and that’s what I really like about her,” said Marylin Yanes Perez, a friend since middle school.
“Hish school is just, half of it is schoolwork, the other half is drama, if Sheetal can get through it, then pretty much anyone can,” chimed in Diego Davila, one of Sheetal’s classmates.
Getting through the academic of high school is hard enough. Imagine having to do it while missing months at a time because of various surgeries. Sheetal’s had 13 operations for severe health issues.
Last year, it was radical craniofacial surgery which totally remade her appearance. Before that, it was operations on her deformed spine, legs, and more. In spite of all of that, Sheetal still earns all “A’s” and “B’s”, and finds time for three service clubs, including working with other disabled kids in Best Buddies. Her teachers say Sheetal inspires everyone with her drive and positivity.
“I mean, is she gonna be a basketball player? No, but could she be a doctor if she wanted to, could she be an attorney, absolutely, the sky’s the limit for someone like Sheetal,” said Fallan Patterson, one of Sheetal’s teachers.
Sheetal wants to eventually go into health care, possibly as a doctor, with, she says, one singular goal for her life:
“To make a difference in the world somehow,” Sheetal said.
She’s already making a difference, and Sheetal says she’ll never stop moving forward.