Greensboro, NC -- Monique Johnson is a good reason why sometimes, you can't always believe only what you see.
"This one is obviously my favorite," said Monique Johnson, about one of her paintings. Her love of art goes back years.
"Even in middle school, I would draw on my notebooks and everything," she said.
Now she's moved on to a bigger canvas. "I really liked the way this came out," she said, looking at a colorful piece featuring musicians and instruments.
Johnson's favorite piece measures 28 inches by 28 inches. For her, it's a life-size work of art.
"I put my canvas on the wall, that way I could reach everything," she said.
Born with scoliosis and a diastrophic dysplasia dwarfism, Johnson is something of a medical miracle.
"They didn't believe that I was going to live past 6," said Johnson, about the doctors who worked with her. "I'm not even supposed to be breathing and talking."
Instead, Johnson, now 21 years old, is entering her third year of college at N.C. A&T State University.
"A lot of people would think, you know, 'You don't mind people staring?' I'm like, no, because, I mean, it's not every day you see something different," she said.
Facing challenges is nothing new for Johnson. "If somebody tells me I can't do it, I try to make sure I do it, and do it better than you can," she said.
Her attitude serves her well on a college campus, where getting around and inside buildings isn't always easy, or cheap.
"I have to pay for an aid, which is about $30,000 per year," she said. That doesn't factor in tuition, which she says is around $7,000 per semester.
It's a cost outweighed by the opportunity to live on campus.
"It's very convenient for me to be here, and to socialize with a lot of my friends and everything," she said.
While she may face bumps in the road, Johnson considers herself proof anything can happen.
"If you really work hard for it, you can get to school and fulfill your dream," she said.
In Johnson's eyes, the one thing that doesn't define her is her disability. After she finishes college, she hopes to attend law school at Wake Forest University and eventually become a judge.
If you are interested in seeing Johnson's artwork in person, you have an opportunity to buy a piece this weekend.
A benefit celebration to help Johnson pay for school is taking place on Saturday, August 18.
It begins at 6:00 p.m. at Elim Christian Fellowship at 507 Balboa Street in Greensboro.
For more information, call 336-621-1669 and ask for Boniswa Ayan.
WFMY News 2