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Staying the course

A program at DePaul University in Chicago gives chronically ill students a better shot at earning a college degree.

Cecilia Reyes, a student in DePaul University's Chronic Illness Initiative program who suffers from multiple sclerosis, works on online college class assignments from the basement of her parents home in Chicago on June 13. The program, which is part of DePaul's School of New Learning, allows students with chronic illnesses to take courses in the classroom or online.

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Reyes, who started at DePaul in 2001, reflects on her illness at her parents home in Chicago. She credits the one-of-a-kind program with allowing her to graduate with a degree in psychology in 2009.

M. Spencer Green / AP

Reyes studies while she takes an infusion treatment at the Multiple Sclerosis Center Infusion Facility at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. In DePaul's program, students can take time off, even abruptly when the symptoms of their illness hit, and finish coursework later with no penalty or tuition loss.

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Reyes takes an infusion treatment at the Multiple Sclerosis Center Infusion Facility at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.

M. Spencer Green / AP

Students in DePaul University's Chronic Illness Initiative program, from left, Lacey Wood, Reyes, Derrick Winding and Teresa Stallone laugh after giving a presentation about chronic illness at the university in Chicago on April 28.

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Derrick Windingn, a student in DePaul University's Chronic Illness Initiative program works in his computer class in Chicago on March 16. Winding suffers from multiple sclerosis and bipolar disorder.

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Lynn Royster, founder of the Chronic Illness Initiative program at DePaul University, visits with her son Patrick Holaday at his home in Chicago on May 11. Holaday is a member of the program and suffers from severe chronic fatigue syndrome.

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Reyes accepts her diploma during her college graduation ceremony in Chicago.

M. Spencer Green / AP

Reyes gets a hug from her grandmother, Edelmira Reyes, at a celebration after her college graduation ceremony in Chicago.

M. Spencer Green / AP