Incoming freshman shows resilience after two tragedies
On October 14, 2015 while crossing the street in her hometown of Mount Vernon, Illinois, Tristen Sharp was hit by a car. She was immediately taken to Cardinal Glennon Hospital in St. Louis where she remained sedated for the better part of two weeks, breathing only through a ventilator.
Eventually Sharp became strong enough to breath on her own. Doctors removed the tubes that had been attached to her, but this was only the beginning of her long journey to recovery.
The accident left Sharp with a traumatic brain injury, causing memory loss, frequent headaches, confusion, and dizziness.
Close friends and family of Sharp created a Facebook page dedicated to supporting her after the accident. The page, Tristen Tough, featured day to day updates on Sharp’s condition, photos, and countless messages of support.
The community of Mount Vernon wasted no time lending support to the Sharp family after hearing of the accident. Sharp’s cheerleading team at Mount Vernon Township High School created and sold bows, t-shirts, and keychains to raise money while local businesses donated a percentage of their sales and collected change for the family.
The months following the accident were consumed with additional surgeries as well as physical, occupational, and speech therapy. Though there were struggles, Sharp did her best to continue cheering and to keep up with schoolwork.
School has always been an important part of Sharp’s life. As life began to go back to normal, Sharp decided she wanted to attend Illinois State and pursue a major in Political Science.
“Upon completion of the Political Science program at ISU, I plan to continue my education by applying for acceptance into law school. This is in pursuit of a Juris Doctorate degree. My hopes are to become an attorney with emphasis in personal injury litigation,” said Sharp.
Sharp graduated from Mount Vernon Township earlier this year. Shortly after, the unexpected happened.
On June 11, 2017 while riding in the passenger seat of her friend’s car, Sharp was involved in yet another serious accident. She sustained a broken neck, as well as another traumatic brain injury.
Though her injuries were not as severe as the first accident’s, Sharp still had to fight for her life and deal with the emotional aftermath of the trauma. She refused to let the difficulties she has been presented with stop her from pursuing her dreams.
“I am a very determined person, who doesn’t give up on anything. I constantly push through my weaknesses, striving to be the best person that I can be while also achieving my goals,” said Sharp.
After a month of recovery, Sharp was able to attend Preview in early July. She is currently settling into her new home away from home here at Illinois State.
“When you feel like the odds are stacked against you, always remember that it is you and only you that determines your future. Strength, determination, and perseverance will always carry you through life’s toughest moments,” said Sharp.
Sharp has gained valuable insight through the tragedies she experienced. She hopes her story will inspire others to fight their battles and look forward to a bright future.
Logan Sellers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.