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Aftermath of Traumatic Brain Injury Doesn’t Stop This December Graduate

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 16, 2019) — (FROM UK
Resilient — one word that can be used to describe Rachel Centers, a Clark County resident who will graduate from the University of Kentucky Friday, Dec. 20.

During her early college career, a car accident left Centers with a severe brain injury. Even years after the accident Centers still suffers from short-term memory loss, reduced speeds of cognitive processing and reaction time, fatigue, depression, sleep deprivation, loss of motivation and mood changes. However, Centers didn’t let those obstacles stop her from fulfilling her passion.

“I have always had high goals and expectations, and knew I had to work toward getting back to where I was,” Centers said.

Centers, who was majoring in computer science at the time of the accident, took time off from school, but she eventually decided to come back to UK with a new career path — education.  Inspired to go into education by her father, who is a retired social studies teacher, Centers will receive a degree in kinesiology from the UK College of Education. She had always been involved in athletics growing up, so furthering her profession in health and physical education only seemed natural to her.

However, her journey to become an educator was not one she made alone. Centers said she had many faculty mentors at the College of Education’s Department of Kinesiology and Health Promotion, including Heather Erwin, Aaron Beighle, Melody Noland and Lucian Taylor.

“I didn’t even know she had been in a bad car accident at first,” Taylor said. “She always came to class ready to work and didn’t let anything slow her down.”

Erwin agreed. “Rachel is just a very dedicated student who wants to learn as much as possible. She was always overly prepared and willing to help those around her. There is a good place in her heart for others.”

When asked what graduating this December means to her despite her injuries, Centers said, “Being able to graduate shows me that I still have the capabilities to succeed in my goals and further my future.”

Centers said that future includes working toward a master’s degree and making a positive impact on her own students during her career in education.

The University of Kentucky December Commencement Ceremonies will take place at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Friday, Dec. 20, in Rupp Arena.