“If you want to hear God laugh, just tell him your plans.”
I once had planned to be a Child Psychologist. I had worked with children for years, and it seemed like a perfect career for me. But on May 1, 1984 my life was changed forever when I was hit head on by a drunk driver.
After surviving a two-month coma, and seemingly endless therapy, I began to discover the new me. I was a very different person than before the crash. Everything was different. At the rehabilitation hospital, the Neurologist had told me that I wouldn’t be able to fulfill most of my hopes and dreams. He said there was no way that I would ever be able to go back to college and finish my Bachelor’s degree.
Therapy began to seem endless, and my goals had to be small. Then I began Cognitive therapy and I began to feel that maybe life wasn’t over quite yet. My therapist got me involved with public speaking through Toastmasters International, which helped my social interaction with others, and gave me confidence in speaking with new people.
In May of 1986, my mother received a phone call that was to be the catalyst for my new career. My eighth-grade science teacher asked if I would talk to her class. She said that they were really difficult children and that she had worries for their futures. She wanted me to share my experience as the victim of a drunk driver. After I did the speech I suddenly knew why I had been brought out of a two-month coma, to aid in the fight against drinking and driving. The devastating traffic crash and its effects on me would be turned into a positive teaching experience.
After that first school speech, I volunteered as a speaker for MADD for 10 years. Now, I work with the DRE (drug recognition expert) unit of LAPD as well as presenting programs for police departments nationwide. I teach at all of their Impaired Driver Apprehension Program classes and have trained the Traffic Bobbies in Northeast London. I have spoken to thousands of audiences all over the world, from high school students, to police officers, to first time offenders and community groups. Despite the dire predictions of my doctors, I graduated from UCLA with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications. I earned a Certificate in College Counseling from UCLA as well. As a person who has finished college after having a traumatic Brain Injury, I know firsthand what it takes to get into college and be successful once there.
In 2007 I first visited Arlington West, and met many Veterans that day. I realized the promise our government was making of college for these new vets who were able to return home from service, was not backed up with much assistance in the college application processes, so I set up a site to help these vets: www.collegecounseling4veterans.com
Several years ago, I met Greg Lee and became very active with the Jewish War Veterans; a group that serves all veterans. I have been serving as Chief of Staff for the California Jewish War Veterans for a few years now…
Once again I am looking to fulfill my ultimate goal; which is to meet with soldiers who have returned from recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with head injuries/PTSD; that have been given little hope for their recoveries and their futures. I was given no hope and I came back…and now I feel the need to help others!
My story is a warning to all those who would choose to drive while intoxicated. But it is also one of hope – that with determination and hard work, one can beat even the most insurmountable obstacles and achieve their dreams. Your life many not be what you planned, but together we can find a new plan.
This is the first entry of my new blog. Follow me on this journey!