My life embodies the cliche phrase, “life can change in an instant.” I was a twenty-four-year-old college graduate with dreams of becoming the biggest sports agent the League had ever seen. That all changed July 2008 when body met metal; I got hit by a drunk driver on Hollywood Boulevard going around 40 miles per hour. The violent impact immediately broke my neck and sent me into a coma for a month. As the doctors were preparing my family for the worst, I was fighting for my right to live. When I finally gained consciousness, I was told that I had suffered from a brain and a spinal cord injury caused by my broken neck, and would be a quadriplegic for the rest of my life.
Another month in the hospital passed in a haze of excruciating discomfort and mind-numbing confusion. A broken neck, what does that even mean? Can I ever walk again? Why can’t I feel or move anything under my neck? The same legs that took their first steps towards my mother at nine months and carried me through hundreds of basketball games are no longer functioning? Lying on the hospital bed amongst the tears, anger, and pain I had to consciously tell myself that this is not where my life would end. This was not the end of my road; I would walk again. After years of physical therapy, small triumphs and even bigger defeats, I willed myself to walk again.
That same perseverance has led me to where I am today. I am the Vice President, Director of Recruitment, Enrollment & Marketing at the University of West Los Angeles (UWLA), where I oversee the day-to-day operations of both the School of Business and School of Law at UWLA. I also serve on the Board of Imagine LA, a non-profit organization in Los Angeles dedicated to ending the cycle of family homelessness and chronic poverty through mentoring and social services.
Most recently, I presented a TEDx talk about overcoming tragedy and making the right, conscious decision to continue to persevere no matter the odds. I did not let anyone around me define what my life would look like, I carved my own path and I will help you carve out yours as well because we will no longer be defined by the limitations people impose on us.