Senior focuses on fashion design while living with MS

Nakyra Milner navigates campus with a disability and pleads for a little more empathy

If you ever see someone walking slowly“Nakyra Milner says calm down and have a little empathy.

Milner, a fashion merchandising major from Locust Grove, said Slow Walkers were her pet peeve. But at the end of his freshman year, Milner was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. The disease particularly affects its balance. For her own safety, she now walks slowly, often towards the curb to allow people in a hurry to easily get around her. She might even pretend to be on the phone or looking for someone.

“It would be so much easier if people calm down and realize that not everyone has the same privilege,” she said. “Be more empathetic. “

His illness is mostly invisible. Looking at her, there is no sign of illness. But MS, an autoimmune disease where the immune system attacks the central nervous system, affects everyone differently. It could affect vision or cause muscle spasms. And the disorder looks different from person to person.

MS diagnosis

Milner has been sailing in MS for three years now.

One Thursday, she woke up and her balance was off. She could not walk straight and her left side was both weak and heavy. She didn’t feel sick, but her body didn’t feel well. Her parents drove from Henry County to take her to the emergency room. Her doctor checked her CT scans, saw the spots on her brain scan, and thought she had MS. A week later, a neurologist made the official diagnosis.

Milner went from being a normal student to having a disability in this episode.

She ended up taking a year off from the University of Georgia, attending a local community college to adjust to her new life.

MS is a chronic disease — it doesn’t go away. “Something isn’t always right, everyday for the rest of your life,” she said. “There is no on / off switch. He doesn’t die. It doesn’t change. The best thing you can do is follow a good treatment plan.

Navigate UGA with a disability

At UGA, Milner carefully controls her schedule, always leaving enough time between classes for her to get to Dawson Hall, Gilbert Hall, or wherever her class is. When she loses muscle coordination in her hand, she can use a smart pen to record lectures. When connected to his computer, the smart pen creates a PDF file of the lecture notes. She can also use a note taker for her classes, which comes in handy when traveling to Atlanta for treatment infusions. In total, she uses four housing units for people with disabilities through the Disability Resource Center, which allows her to successfully attend classes on campus and virtually. Milner has also become a Digital Dawg and is part of the Disability Resource Center Speakers Bureau, to better advocate and educate students with disabilities.

Nakyra Milner is working on a design project in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences Sewing Lab. Milner discovered fashion during her senior year of high school and loves how fashion can change the way a person thinks about themselves, make them more confident or more beautiful. (Photo by Peter Frey / UGA)

Fashion Marketing

Milner is studying Fashion Merchandising at the College of Family and Consumer Sciences with a focus on product development and design, and a double minor in Spanish and General Affairs. This semester, most of her classes are online due to health concerns related to the pandemic, but she has two labs on campus: Computer Aided Design and a Textile Testing Lab, where the culmination of the course is to light clothes on fire to test for flammability.

Ultimately, she wants to have her own full-size formal wear boutique.

In high school, Milner described herself as a girl in a T-shirt and jeans, someone who isn’t really interested in clothes. That all changed when she went prom dress shopping and saw all the colorful dresses.

“For the first time in my life, I felt so beautiful and pretty. I would never have used those words to describe myself, ”she said.

And that’s where his interest in fashion merchandising comes from. “I was able to look at myself in a different way,” she said. “I wanted to help other people like me have this fashion experience.”

Nakyra Milner, an undergraduate student at the Family and Consumer Sciences Sewing Lab, with some of her clothing form design projects. (Photo by Peter Frey / UGA)

Plus size fashion

Plus size fashion is an area of ​​particular interest to her. After college, she would like to work with a brand to expand her size range.

Last semester, she wrote an article on clothing deprivation and the mental impact of the perceived lack of clothing as a plus size person. “With the body positivity movement a few years ago, we really started having these conversations about different experiences of what it’s like to be plus size, not to have these clothes on. “

Nakyra Milner worked with the association of fashion design students and designed for their fashion shows. When the theme was unconventional at the Met Gala, she designed a cage skirt made of Hula-Hoops and hangers and covered in flower garlands. She loves flowers, and flowers feature prominently in her designs. (Photo by Peter Frey / UGA)


She worked with the association of fashion design students and designed for their fashion shows. It is also designed for the Union of African Students. In particular, her face masks are in great demand.

In the fall of 2019, she created fabric masks for the dancers.

Did she predict the pandemic? “I made masks before it was cool,” she laughed. She spent the summer sewing and selling fabric masks, and used the money to buy a sturdy sewing machine.

And after

Milner tries not to let the HS define her. Every day she is a little more confident and better able to navigate college and have a disability. Her treatment works well in controlling her physical symptoms, and the therapy helps alleviate some of the mental symptoms. And she’s excited about what’s next: internships and post-graduation jobs.

And while she enjoys sewing floral masks, she looks forward to the day when masks will be a nifty new prop for a dance performance, not a health requirement.

Joseph E. Golightly