Despite obstacles, Estes student determined to learn

September 16, 2020 | 12:09 am

Updated September 15, 2020 | 11:11 pm

Photo provided | Illustration by Owensboro Times

Maurice McKenzie, a 2nd-grade student at Estes Elementary School, loves learning so much that he didn’t even let a hospital stay in Louisville keep him from attending his online classes. 

A photo shared by Estes this week commended Maurice for his “grit,” as he was shown lying in a hospital bed — his laptop facing him — while he received a blood infusion and his education at the same time. 

According to Maurice’s grandmother, La’Tanya McKenzie, Maurice was born with sickle cell disease — a group of blood disorders typically inherited genetically from one’s parents. Maurice received his first operation at only six months old and travels to Louisville at least once a month for blood infusions, doctors’ appointments and lab tests. 


At only 7 years old, Maurice has had seven operations, La’Tanya said, and still has another two to go. But Maurice has refused to let his disease control his life. 

“First of all, he just likes school. He’s just a happy kid,” La’Tanya said. “He just tries to live a normal life.” 

Described as having a huge vocabulary and conversing “like an old man,” La’Tanya said Maurice’s favorite subjects are math and music. He plays basketball, soccer and T-ball. 

When Maruice was younger, the needles used to bother him, La’Tanya said. But now, he’s learned to deal with his appointments and blood infusions in stride. 

While Maurice would love to attend in-person classes and see his teachers, he’s adapted to the online learning environment. For the first time in his life, he hasn’t had to miss any school. 

“His sister is in 8th grade and has never missed a day of school. His aunt never missed a day, and I never did either,” La’Tanya said. “He might have perfect attendance this year. It excites him because everyone else has done it. It’s sort of an expectation.” 

September 16, 2020 | 12:09 am

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