Jennifer Austin Cowan, TN 22,619 Votes
On September 15, 2006 I was involved in a hit-and-run car accident that changed my entire life within a matter of seconds. Doctors gave me a 20 percent chance of surviving and thanks to countless prayers and the good Lord above I defeated all odds and pulled through. Unfortunately, that accident left me paralyzed from the mid chest and down (quadriplegic) and wheelchair bound. So after nine different surgeries and an extensive four month hospital and rehabilitation stay, I was released with the doctors giving me only a small percent chance of ever walking again.
Once I returned home I began intense physical therapy with all hopes of getting back on my feet and proving my doctors wrong. Through community support I was given the opportunity to attend a rehabilitation center that specializes in spinal cord injuries called Project Walk. It was invigorating and exactly what I needed! After one week I left with a new perspective on life and complete faith that through hard work and determination I would one day walk again. Unfortunately, due to my lack of finances and the high cost of therapy and traveling I was not able to continue therapy like I wished. I decided that the only way I would be able to afford the therapy I will need would be to return back to school and finish my education.
In August 2009 I left the comfort of my parent’s home and moved an hour and a half away in order to start back to college at Middle Tennessee State University. This would be the best decision I ever made because it allowed me to gain back most of the independence I had lost. Thanks to the support of my family, friends, and awesome caregivers I was able to complete my Bachelors degree in August 2012.
I began Graduate school immediately following graduation. I am currently in my second semester and moving right along! The last step in my quest to full independence is driving. I currently own a 97 Dodge Caravan but it is in no condition for me to drive. I desperately need a new van as this would assist me in the next chapter of my life: entering the workforce. I hope to be an inspiration to other individuals with disabilities who also wish to pursue their dreams regardless of the obstacles they may face!