Megan Musselman, 17, will graduate from Chippewa Falls High School this year. Musselman, a lifelong Chippewa Falls resident, reads at a third-grade level and has some cognitive learning challenges. She has become outgoing in high school after years of being shy and withdrawn.

CHIPPEWA FALLS — Megan Musselman didn’t start speaking until she was 3. During elementary school, she got assistance to help her learn her letters and start reading. Even now, Musselman says she reads at a third-grade level.

However, Musselman grew and developed in high school, going from a quiet introvert to becoming more outgoing and social. Despite some of her challenges, she will graduate this June with her classmates.

“Once she hit middle-school level, things really improved a lot,” said her mother, Sabrina Musselman. “She’s come a long way. She’s had some roadblocks she had to overcome.”

Sabrina Musselman said she’s impressed with her daughter for never giving up. Along with the learning disabilities, Megan has anxiety issues, Sabrina said.

“I’m extremely proud of her,” Sabrina Musselman said. “She amazes me with the successes she’s having. She gets frustrated, but she keeps trying. She might have to step back for a day, but she keeps trying.”

Steve Shilts, Chippewa Falls schools psychiatrist, has known Megan since she was evaluated in elementary school, and has seen her growth. He described her as a hard worker who deserves recognition.

“There was just a dramatic development and maturation over the last four years,” Shilts said. “When she came into the school, she was shy. She worked hard at it and developed good relationships with her teachers, and just came out of her shell. She became outgoing and comfortable in her environment.”

Megan said she used to be cautious about speaking, remaining quiet. Even as she was struggling to learn to read, she developed a love for singing in the school choir — even if she couldn’t read the song lyrics.

“I don’t like to do (song) sheets,” Megan said. “I like to hear it. I listen to it hundreds of times and I memorize it.”

Megan said she has developed good relationships with her friends, and enjoys being someone they turn to.

“If people need someone to talk to, I’m there,” she said.

Sabrina said among the goals this summer is to work with Megan to see if she can get her driver’s permit. She also works two days a week cleaning at an area child care center.

Megan will start working at the Cardinal Transition Academy in downtown Chippewa Falls, which is an on-the-job training program for high-functioning students with developmental disabilities. It is operated by the school district.

“We got a tour of it, and I was really interested in it,” Megan said. “I was excited.”

Her long-term goal is to work at the Irvine Park zoo, saying she loves seeing the animals.