The voice of De Anza since 1967.

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The voice of De Anza since 1967.

La Voz News

The voice of De Anza since 1967.

La Voz News

The De Anza 2024 Women’s Most Inspirational Award Winner

Swim star Jackie Chan wins at the Student-Athlete Awards Ceremony after hardships with neurological issues
Courtesy of Jackie Chan
Jacqueline (Jackie) Chan poses for a photo by in front of the pool in the Physical Education quad before the student-athlete awards on

Jackie Chan, 33, computer science major, was nominated for the Most Inspirational Athlete Award at the Student-Athlete Awards Ceremony after bouncing back from years of tremendous odds where her body was giving up on her. At the age of 24, Chan’s medical journey went completely sideways.

The awards ceremony took place in the evening of June 13 in the Visual and Performing Arts Center.

“Ten years ago, my body started giving up on me, and I started having neurological issues,” Chan said. “It got bad enough that I couldn’t do anything by myself, I couldn’t even eat food by myself. I needed someone to hold the fork in my mouth to put the food into my mouth, that’s how bad it was. So at 24 years old, I was reduced in terms of ability.”

Chan said that as she was going through a loss of independence and intense pain because of the neurological issues, she also had to deal with many rude doctors.

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“As I was trying to figure out what to do medically, my medical journey has been terrible,” Chan said. “A lot of healthcare providers were not quite caring, and would tell me things like, ‘you know you’re not going to get any better’ or ‘you know just be grateful that you’re where you are right now and not getting any worse.’”

During this time of her life, things continued to get worse, she dealt with two car accidents and her neurological issues were not improving.

“I got into crutches,” Chan said. “A lady rear-ended me twice, and then the other car crash … that person ran a red light and then hit me really hard in my car. I thought my life would be over.”

As things looked bleak, swim class became the break that Chan needed. Chan found the beginner swim classes at De Anza after looking at the schedule because of her doctor’s recommendation.

“I saw that there was also a swimming class,” Chan said. “And so I tried that. … And then I just kept going from there.”

Danielle Altman, De Anza’s Aquatics coach, who coached Chan in competitive swimming at De Anza, had many great things to say when discussing her.

“Jackie is really a special person, you don’t come across very many people like her in a lifetime,” Altman said. “Even before I knew a lot about her background, she was always cheerful, always excited and I basically met her because she was a student in my fall swimming class. … She just brings this amazing, positive energy.”

Altman said that she is extremely proud of all the things Chan has overcome and the kind of teammate Chan is.

“She has overcome tremendous odds, even before all of those things happened, as you got to know her a little bit, found out she played for the men’s soccer team at Caltech,” Altman said. “She is supportive, energetic and she brings the best out of people.”

Altman said she was proud of Chan winning the Most Inspirational Athlete Award and that she is incredibly worthy of it.

“I was really excited, because I honestly couldn’t think of anybody who was more deserving or more inspirational just within our team,” Altman said. “I love the fact that she gets to share her story with all of the athletes out there, because it’s just as special, sort of having that second and third chance, in her case, to come back and be a college athlete for round two after everything she’s been through.”

Aitenir Kanatbekov, 20, data science major, was shocked when he learned about Chan’s story. Kanatbekov’s said his advice to Chan is to keep pushing through adversity.

“Just go for it,” Kanatbekov said. “Go forward, and if you face anything, go through it.”

At this point, Chan said her goals are to keep pushing until she can become pain-free. Even now Chan has to deal with flare-ups and her body not cooperating with her, but she continues to push through.

“You talk to the people you need to talk to, try to get a little bit more bandwidth in you to take the next step and then you just take the next step,” Chan said. “Sometimes you do the next step when you’re scared, sometimes you do the next step when you’re feeling awful, but enough next steps, and then you somehow find yourself as an athlete again, and this is where I’m at.”

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About the Contributor
Anthony Politi
Anthony Politi, Staff Reporter
I started to take interest in journalism as a way to get into the sports side of media; my hope for this quarter is to continue improving my writing skills for journalism.

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