ELLICOTT CITY, Md. (WDVM) — 27-year-old Corissa Anderson is a dancer, a mentor and a hard-working woman. If she puts her mind to it, she’ll make it happen.

There was a time when doctors told her family none of it would be possible because of her Down Syndrome diagnosis.

In an exclusive interview with WDVM’s Randi Bass, Corissa and her mother Janet Anderson sat down and shared a story of perseverance and hope.

Corissa smiled as she showed off her Zumba dance moves on the back porch of their Ellicott City home. Her love for performing shines through when she teaches her cardio dance class.

“I love Zumba. It makes me smile,” said Corissa.

But like so many other Americans, her passions were put on pause during the pandemic.

“She used to teach the class in person but with the pandemic, her childcare job shut down, everything shut down,” Janet said.

Corissa has stayed busy from home but says she misses teaching her classes and working in person.

“I love my job, going to work. I still miss it because I know it’s just a virus, but I wanna go back because kids are really fun to be around,” said Corissa.

She’s found ways to keep spreading her smile online, with virtual dance classes and a teen group through the Chesapeake Down Syndrome organization, teaching teens with Down Syndrome about healthy eating and fitness.

“I do like a tween [group]. I do that during the day and sometimes later in the day,” she explained. “We bake, we make snacks.”

She’s doing all of the things that doctors once said she never would.

“When she was first born, they didn’t think she’d ever walk or talk, or read, or do all the things that she’s overcome and done. So we’ve always said, ‘never give up, always believe.’ And Corissa’s done that and she’s just awesome,” her mother said with a smile.

She graduated from River Hill High School, went on to graduate from the UMBC Success Program, and now takes an online job skills class every day. She’s working toward her ultimate goal: independence.

“I want to be independent because I can do things in my own way,” said Corissa.

She’s an independent woman we can all learn from.

“Being a good friend means showing them my smile, hugging them, and making them feel special,” said Corissa.