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My name is Tessa K. and I am 26 (almost 27) years old. At 24 years of age I discovered I have 22q11 sequence.

Throughout the course of my life I dealt with health challenges. I had an exceptional support system (my mother, stepfather, family and friends) and became involved in doing art and worked extensively on my cognitive, mental and physical issues.

And I did a lot of praying.

Art became a subject that not only helped me process and problem solve academic and life situations, it also developed into my career. I’ve had several gallery exhibits of my oil paintings and drawings. I graduated from the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design in ’08 and earned my BFA in drawing, which became a useful foundation for fashion design. In ’07 I bought my first sewing machine and began taking courses with a local fashion designer in Milwaukee, and then I was well prepared to take on fashion design.

Now, I am coordinating my own runway shows. I am working to bring awareness to 22q11 by hosting fundraiser fashion runway shows to benefit 22q11 organization. I construct my own clothes and create clothing lines every other season, and I have shows when I get the opportunity. In the next couple of months I will be self-publishing my first book through amazon.com, my memoir titled “Branches.” My book is about my journey and the ways I overcame health AND situational challenges.

Despite all that I had been through, every day I feel more and more blessed. I believe that as I have gotten older, things have greatly improved. In my book, I share the ways I managed the symptoms and issues as well as life situations. I hope to help the 22q11 community any way I can with my book, gallery and runway shows. Visit my website, www.tesskodesigns.com, for more information on my book and upcoming fashion and gallery shows.

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