Bailey's Study Abroad Trip

On August 11, 2012, I was the back seat passenger in a car accident. I survived 16 hours of surgery, 16 blood transfusions, a lacerated liver, multiple broken ribs and a spine that was irreparable. I am now paralyzed from the waist down. 

While in the hospital, I had a choice: I could choose to let this accident end what I had been working towards up until then, or I could view this as the turning point in my life. My defining moment. Who was I going to be?

I was fully covered under my parents insurance when I was in this accident, however, the co-pays, the out-of-pockect expenses, the cost of remodeling my parents home so I could come home to them, and have a comfortable, safe place to live that was ADA compatable once I left the hospital, almost drove my parents to banckruptcy. 

After months of literal blood, sweat and tears, months of rehabilitation and learning a new way to live. To live a life with wheels instead of legs. Learning how to drive a car with hand controls. Learning how to navigate a world made for “uprights”,  I decided that it was time to return to school.

I was determined to head back to college from my newly seated position. I remembered that my goal in life was to become and elementary school teacher prior to the accident, now I needed to take my personal experience and turn it into the best positive influence I could - to become an educator.

I started back to school at Cerritos College where I became their first Homecoming Princess in a wheelchair. I was also their Math Club President for several semesters. I joined the Cerritos College Teacher TRAC program, and have remained on the Dean’s List since 2013, where my current GPA is a 4.0. I have now been accepted into California State University Long Beach where my major will be Liberal Studies.

To complete my experience, to explore my new world with wheels, I applied for and  have officially been accepted to, the University of Wollongong in Australia.I will be the first paraplegic to travel abroad from California State University, Long Beach, to the University of Wollongong, Australia in New South Wales.

This opportunity is once in a lifetime. This will allow me the chance to learn a different culture first hand and bring this new found knowledge back to my future classroom. This will also allow me to prove to myself, my family, my friends and my schoolmates that no matter what life throws at you, you can – you MUST – overcome it, and no goal, no dream is too big.

While this is an exciting opportunity, it is an expensive endeavour! I want to take this amazing journey to prove to myself, my friends, my family, that I can travel and learn outside of this Country. I can set goals, and travel far. Like one of my idol's, Frida Kahlo said "Feet, what do I need you for, when I have wings to fly?"

I feel that this chance to travel, to learn firsthand, to push myself into a challenging and positive educational environment will make me a better teacher, professional, student, and world citizen.

Thank you,
Bailey Ann Spillane <3


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Bailey Ann Spillane 
Long Beach, CA
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