Angela, who was recently interviewed for our website, rediscovered a sense of herself she feared was lost after her injury. “The hardest part was not being able to do things independently. I was 15-years-old and just starting to get a taste of independence” when she was injured in a diving accident on her school swim team that left her with quadriplegia.
That was back in 1996. And for nearly all of the 20 years since her injury, Angela has focused on building a life filled with the independence she thought she had lost. She found a way to graduate from high school with her classmates by creating a schedule that worked with her new disability. She was the first person in a wheelchair to live in her college dorm, where she developed a system of hiring occupational therapy students to help with her care. She graduated in four years with a BA in Psychology, and then went on to graduate and post-graduate training which involved her re-locating to four different cities to complete her education.
She even rediscovered her love of sports. “I ended up getting involved in wheelchair ice hockey when I was in high school, and that was such a powerful and empowering experience for me because that was the first time that I felt like an athlete again.” She still enjoys adaptive water skiing.
Angela is now a rehabilitation psychologist who works with veterans who have both new and chronic spinal cord injuries. She of her ability to reclaim herself: “If there’s something that’s been really, really important to me, I’ve been able to find a way to do it.”