XTRA SPECIAL: OCC student Indigo Buikema succeeds against all odds

Indigo BuikemaOAKLAND COUNTY, Michigan – Few people with Fragile X syndrome attend college.

Let alone earn Dean’s List honors.

But that’s exactly what Indigo Buikema is doing at Oakland Community College these days.

Buikema, 23, of Rochester Hills, Mich., is expected to graduate in May 2019 with an associate’s degree in Library Technical Services. That’s epic for someone who has FXS, which is the most common inherited cause of autism and intellectual disabilities. It affects 1 in 4,000 boys and 1 in 6,000 girls worldwide.

“College is difficult no matter what your abilities are, but once you know what you are doing and what you are comfortable with choosing your major, it can get a lot easier,” she said.

Growing up, Indigo had quite a few struggles, but her saving grace was her love of reading.

“She was already reading by the time she was 4,” said Sulie Buikema Tyler, her mom. “I started pointing to words, and she knew them all. This love of literature was a skill that helped her make up for other liabilities she had, and headed her in the direction of a Library Technical Services degree at OCC.”

Indigo graduated from Avondale High School with honors in 2014 and moved comfortably to her degree work at OCC.

“I always love reading and being in a library,” she said. “OCC is a very welcoming environment and a great place to come for your education. The atmosphere is really fun and there are so many different opportunities and a huge number of resources available with support from your teachers and other students, as well as family and friends.

“It’s been a ride.”

To view her video, visit OCC's YouTube channel.

About OCC

With multi campus system in Oakland County, OCC is Michigan’s No. 1 transfer institution, offering nearly 100 degrees and certificates. The College empowers academic and developmental experiences, allowing students to reach their potential and enhance their communities. More than 1 million students have enrolled in the college since it opened in 1965. A seven-person Board of Trustees governs OCC. Board members are elected on a non-partisan, at-large basis, serve as volunteers and are not paid. Mission statement: OCC is committed to empowering our students to succeed and advancing our community. Learn more at oaklandcc.edu.


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