(CNN)As a self-proclaimed "princess," Shantell "Shannie" Pooser is comfortable in the spotlight.
This brave teen with Down syndrome is taking to the sky as a flight attendant despite a bleak prognosis
But instead of a tiara or a ballgown, this 17-year-old prefers a pair of silver wings and a crisp, navy blue flight attendant's uniform.
Pooser is American Airlines' first honorary flight attendant with Down syndrome.
Since pinning on those wings and posting about her first flight on Facebook, she has become a symbol of hope for her community.
"People recognize her and want to take selfies," Pooser's mother, Deanna Miller-Berry, tells CNN. "She loves it!"
The airline honored Pooser with the role on her 17th birthday -- a milestone doctors did not expect her to see. In addition to Down syndrome, Pooser was born with a rare, degenerative airway condition that hinders her breathing. Her physicians say it's terminal.
The teen developed a love of flying during trips between her South Carolina home and Ohio. She often travels to the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center to receive lifesaving care.
To date, Pooser has undergone 30 surgeries. Her family says they spent more than $30,000 out of pocket for Pooser's medical care between 2015 and 2018.
One day, as Pooser and her mom made the trek from Cincinnati to South Carolina, the teen bonded with a flight attendant who gave her a pair of wings. On that trip, Miller-Berry noticed her daughter paying extra attention to the flight attendants' instructions. She even started imitating them from her seat. When the safety briefing ended, she looked at her mom and said "So, how did I do?"