Terra Hill: Resilient Motivational Speaker and KU Med Student

We’ve talked a lot about motivation this series, I’ll admit that. I’m not sure it’s something I can get tired of talking about though. Strong teams are built of motivation and encouragement, and quite evidently many Black families in Kansas City are as well. When we look at our history, we see a true definition of community within any space we occupy. It’s magical, really. Something to revel at, at the very least. Hard work has always been the expectation as we strive to meet the many goals we set for ourselves but we don’t leave our obligations there. Time is balanced with sharing affirmations, which is an especially important illustration of how the perseverance of your craft can help carry those around you. For nearly my entire life, I’ve grown so much with and due to, the powerful words and actions of my sister; Terra Hill.

Late March, 2018-

There was so much rain. That day, that night, that week. Days passed obviously, but for the life of me, I can’t remember feeling or seeing much of the sun. It’s late in the week and my younger sister was scheduled for what seemed to be a normal, low-risk surgical procedure early that morning. My mother, of course waited through the procedure, sent out the expected text message to the family, confirming from the doctors that surgery had went well and that they would be waking her shortly. The time of relief was swiftly stolen from us when an hour later I recieved a phone call from my mother, stating that there was unforseen complications and she was now being told to wait upstairs before they were able to bring Terra to a recovery room. Hours of forever passed, as this trying week began shaking our faith down to its core.

What makes you proud to be from Kansas City? “Honestly, I wasn’t growing up which is why I went away for college. Going away made me appreciate what my city had to offer. My Family and Culture are here.” -Terra Hill

I could tell in her voice that my mother wanted to sound as factual and direct with the information without alarming us too much but between her pauses and deep breaths, the worriness seeped through to my end of the phone line. Once they were able to finally bring Terra out of anesthesia, we were informed that amongst the complications, there was an unknown amount of time where Terra’s lungs callapsed and within fright, began to fill with blood. This also triggered damage to her heart valves and a bout of pneumonia with her body pushing itself harder than ever before. A day later and 12 hours on the road led me to my sister’s bedside where I preferred to remain glued as long as needed along with all my other siblings. It was then that I saw the impact of Terra’s words, but also the miraculous strength and creativity demonstrated at a time where speech and consciousness were limited for her.

Terra on Motivation: “Family, past failures and my passion to use my history to heal people is what continues to motivate me.” -Terra Hill

Terra is a 3rd year medical student with desires to obtain a doctorate of Medicine & Specialty training in either Transplant or Cardiothoracic Surgery. So, she understood why the bed restraints were necessary for her safety as a patient but it would not hinder her from sharing her thoughts as a soon to be surgical physician in the room. With the uncomfortable tube down her throat, we relied on this machine to do the heavy lifting, intently strengthening yet painfully expanding her lungs. Terra has always been an introvet that often enjoys her solitude but it tore a hole in my spirit to see her fighting, so hard to just…be present in the room. But she did that and way more than we could have imagined. Although, through Terra we have gained much knowledge about our personal health but in this moment she still led the conversation regarding this critical situation.

When I tell you that I seen my sister use every God given talent she has, that would honestly be an understatement”.

It began with tracing letters in the nurses hands to full on pen to paper conversations. My sister asked so many questions of her physicians that none of us in the room would have had the the understanding ask. She even raised some questions that the doctor’s hadn’t thought of yet. Many times after the physican left the room she would even break things down further, which helped keep me calm many times. When I tell you that I seen my sister use every God given talent she has, that would honestly be an understatement. I saw this woman, this strong beautiful woman, save herself. Powerful. Those first few weeks were extremely tough but now Roughly 18 months later, Terra has begun to share her life-changing story with the world and we couldn’t be more excited.

Photo by Matthew Robinson

Out of the 9 of us, If I I’m “lucky #7”, then Terra is definitely our “eight ball” of the group. She has stood firmly in her purpose her entire life, not only through acedemic tests but with life-altering experiences taking their place as additional driving forces for her. There is persistence in her passion with words of affirmation falling from her lips and written across her heart. Today and everyday, I am beyond thankful to have my sister still here, working toward and securing a place for Black healthcare professionals in Kansas City. Unfortunate as it may be that those professionals will likely see us during some of the darkest times of our lives, it’s abundantly clear that their mission is to see us and our community through them as well.

Who inspires you?

“My brother Steven, my mother, and family in general. I’m inspired by anyone who’s overcome any obstacles or hurdles in life.” -Terra Hill

Written by Michelle Hill

See you next Sunday for our next Kansas City artist review: Christian Stephone

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