Sydney Kligman was born in Toledo, Ohio, where she spent her early adolescence in a “really small Jewish community.” But when she was in second grade, the family moved to Baltimore for her dad’s work as a bariatric surgeon at University of Maryland Medical System. She lives in Pikesville.
Kligman, now 22, attended Fort Garrison elementary school and Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School for middle and high schools, where she participated in some BBYO activities, but spent most of her extra-curricular energy as a busy volleyball player. She competed, not only for Beth Tfiloh, but also a couple of travel teams, including for Under Armour.
After high school, and on the lookout for colleges, she was attracted to University of Tampa because of its small size and diverse student body.
“I met a lot of people before going to school. And they were from all over,” Kligman said. “So it was really interesting, listening to their stories and learning about other people’s backgrounds. And then when I got to school, I met even more people, and some of them were international students.”
After first pursuing marketing as her major, she found communications and public relations a better fit because they offered more outlets for her creativity and didn’t involve as much math. “I just fell in love with it,” Kligman said.
Beyond the typical college experiences, including being active with her sorority, Kappa Alpha Theta, Kligman’s college years included dealing with a chronic illness, for which she was initially misdiagnosed. Ultimately, she received a correct diagnosis of Crohn’s disease and, although it was a struggle, proudly finished college this spring.
She has shared much of her story and those struggles through her blog, “Her Unusual Journey.” Now, as a college grad, she looks forward to her next journey: into adulthood (maybe grad school) and a career, where she hopes to continue her web presence and become an “online influencer.”
How did your blog come about?
I ended up really sick my sophomore year of college to the point where I had to come home for about three weeks, during classes. And then I had to come back for the summer because they were taking me off my medicines and then trying new ones. I was basically bed bound; I couldn’t function at all. So I decided to start a blog to keep me distracted. I really never thought it would actually go anywhere. I just used it as an outlet. But it ended up gaining some attention. I’ve had, I think, like 100 countries or more read it.
And you found it helped you?
I would say I’ve taught people that you can cope, even if you’re in really bad situations, and you can always turn a negative into a positive. I’ve also learned about other people and their journeys, and their chronic illnesses. They come to me and ask me for advice on how to handle it, and ask me how I’m coping with it. I try to post every couple of weeks right now, but I told myself once I have time, I’m going to really work on my blog and post frequently.
What kind of community have you built?
It’s all about chronic illness. And I know it’s mainly women.
So you have a super-restricted diet and things that that trigger you?
Yes. I’m gluten-free and nut-free. I’ve been gluten-free and nut-free for about a year. At first it was a struggle. And now I’ve really learned how to eat and make sure that I don’t get sick.
Do you know how many people have visited your blog?
What’s your dream job?
My real dream job would be blogging, just doing my own blog. Being my own boss. Becoming an influencer, that would be the dream, in the medical world and the beauty world. A mixture of things.
From your experiences, how would you encourage people to get through difficult challenges?
I would just say, push through it. It’s possible if you keep a positive mindset. And you can do anything you really want to, even if you do have a few obstacles in the way. It just makes you a stronger person.