This project was the final product of my Introduction to Digital Storytelling class where we were tasked with shooting and editing a short project highlighting a subject of our choice using Adobe Premiere Pro.
This is Maggie Skillman.
Maggie is a junior who transferred to UNC last year. However, her time at UNC really began the day she was born.
20-year-old Maggie Skillman and her twin sister Caroline were born at UNC Hospitals while her father, Steve Skillman, was a student at the Kenan-Flagler Business School. On March 2, 2000, the girls were born severely premature at only 26 weeks. Caroline was born functioning normally, but Maggie was not breathing.
“When I was born, I did not have a heartbeat,” Skillman said in an interview Saturday. “The reason I’m alive today is because of Carolina Hospitals, Carolina School of Nursing, and the NICU there.”
The nurses were able to revive the one-pound, 12-ounce baby. Skillman spent the next three weeks on a ventilator and another three months in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at UNC Women and Children’s Hospital. During this time, Skillman’s parents grew very close to her primary nurse in the NICU.
“Terry Redmon was my nurse, and every time she was in the hospital, I was her baby,” Skillman said. “It was through her love and care that I made it out alive.”
As soon as her father graduated, the Skillman family moved to Hingham, Mass., where she spent the next 18 years. In response to her respiratory complications, Skillman became a pulmonology patient at Boston Children’s Hospital.
During her senior year of high school, she decided to give back to the hospital that helped her to breathe. Skillman ran the Boston Marathon and fundraise for Boston Children’s hospital as a way to express her gratitude. She joined the Miles for Miracles team as the youngest runner on the team by 12 years.
By the day of the marathon, Skillman had raised $17,375 for Boston Children’s Hospital in under four months. 17-year-old Skillman ran the marathon in four hours, three minutes, and 42 seconds. When asked what it was like to witness these months of training and fundraising, Skillman’s father struggled to put the feeling into words.
“My daughter is the definition of the word pride,” Steve Skillman said in an interview Sunday. “I am so proud. I admire the heck out of her.”
Skillman did not get into UNC-CH the first time she applied. She was devastated to hear that the school that already felt like home did not admit her. She decided to enroll at Trinity College for her freshman year and work hard to raise her grades. Skillman was accepted into UNC her sophomore year.
In addition to getting accepted into her dream school, Skillman was offered a position to walk on to the UNC women’s lacrosse team. She grew up playing lacrosse in Massachusetts, and some of her friends from past lacrosse camps thought that she would be a valuable addition to the team.
“We let our coach know that Maggie was a great goalie,” Skillman’s teammate and close friend Taylor McDaniels said in an interview. “She has always had a lot of heart and puts everything into her work, so I knew she would be an asset to the team.”
On February 1, 2020, Skillman played in her first college lacrosse game. She knew that her parents were flying down from Massachusetts to watch the game, and she had the idea to get in contact with her hospital nurse so that she could surprise them.
Nurse Terry Redmon was able to make it to the game. As Skillman ran out of the tunnel in Dorrance Stadium to warm up for the game, she saw her parents standing there next to her NICU nurse and waving frantically. With tears in everyone’s eyes, Skillman knew that everything she had worked for in her life came to this beautiful moment.
“Seeing my parents and the nurse who saved my life together in the stands, just 300 yards away from the hospital where I was born, and then playing lacrosse and studying to become a nurse here, it’s just the coolest thing ever,” Skillman said.
Skillman is planning on working with one of her doctors this upcoming summer in the NICU at Montana State University. She hopes to become a neonatal nurse.