Kearria Freed is set to graduate with honors from the University of South Alabama, and that’s something worth celebrating.
But once you learn about her journey to get to graduation, you’ll realize she deserves all the praise she can get.
In March 2015, Kearria, then a 20-year-old student at Alabama A&M went on her first spring break trip to Panama City Beach, Florida.
“Somebody texted me about a house party,” Kearria told WKRG in 2016. “I asked my friends ‘do [you] wanna go?’ They said yeah.”
Once they arrived she had doubts about staying because there were only a few people there, but in the end they all stayed.
Suddenly, David JaMichael Daniels, a 22-year-old and a man she didn’t know, opened fire.
“When he was shooting I tried to get up and run, but when I got up, that’s when [the bullet] hit me,” she said.
She was rushed to the hospital with a portion of her skull and brain blasted away. The 20-year-old had also suffered a stroke.
She survived, but was left with a traumatic brain injury as well as other injuries that made it extremely difficult, if not impossible to complete daily tasks.
“I couldn’t talk for 5 months and I couldn’t walk for 2 years. And just learning life’s daily tasks again, it was very difficult,” she told WKRG in 2021.
Despite everything working against her, Kearria persisted. With the help of therapy, a support system, and a service dog she graduated from Bishop State Community College with her associate’s degree in general education in 2017.
“My first semester, I took one class. Each semester, I added on a class,” she said.
In July, she’ll graduate again. This time she’ll receive her bachelor’s degree from the University of South Alabama.
“I was determined, and I worked hard.”
“I made the best of my experiences. My professors, made me and Darling [her service dog] feel welcome and accommodated us. I felt included throughout all of my activities,” she said.
After graduation she wants to help others who find themselves in a similar situations as her.
“I want to get my master’s in counseling to assist disabled individuals with education, employment, and independent living,” Kearria said. “That’s my passion: to help other disabled individuals; to show them they can do what I have done. They can overcome.”
Congratulations, Kearria! Your persistence and determination are an inspiration to all.
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