Scholarship Winner 2018
We are pleased to announce this year’s scholarship winner: Michael Carson!
Michael is from Lebanon, Ohio and will be attending Sinclar Community College this fall. This is quite an accomplishment given the difficulties he has had to face. You can read about Michael’s journey with personal injury below.
One early November morning, I was leaving my mother’s house for the last time, as the owners could no longer wait for us to pay the backdated rent. Enroute to my father’s, I was cautious as the roads were slick from the rain. One thing I had never anticipated was that an oil truck had overturned just an hour earlier, leaving gallons of oil running down a hill I’d driven a hundred times before. In an instant, I lost control of my car, sliding directly into the front end of another vehicle.
Initially unconscious, I soon awoke to the sounds of honking horns. Reality quickly sank in as I looked at my own knee cap, split in two. Seeing my door was jammed shut, I pulled my foot out of my entrapped shoe and crawled out my recently broken window. Not realizing the damage done to my foot until my skin met the slick road, my shattered heel sent overwhelming jolts of pain up my leg, pulsating through my body. Leaning against my mangled car, I dragged myself to the other driver to check for any injuries. Thankfully, she was unharmed, due to her traveling down hill and having a larger vehicle. Unfortunately, the cost of walking again didn’t come cheap. The placement of nine screws and one titanium plate alone cost thirteen thousand dollars. Followed by weeks of therapy that taught me how to walk again. This financial setback is the reason I have waited two and half years since my high school graduation in 2016 to apply for college; I have been paying my own bills since I got my first full-time job at 16. Finally free of all debt, I am able to begin my journey into Business Management at Sinclair Community College this fall.
Tate Kaleb Lamoreaux
In retelling the story my mom will use the word zooming. I was not zooming. I was simply motoring along a suburban road—all within the legal speed limit—on my 1982 Kawasaki KZ440 LTD when it happened. I bought that motorcycle three years before. It was my first, and my last, bike. I resurrected that hunk of junk. I was on it, motoring along, when a rabbit darted into the road followed by a large dog. The dog, unfortunately, collided with the side of the motorcycle, slamming against my leg. The suddenness of it, the impact of the clash, made me wobble. The whole motorcycle—and me on it—stated to wag like a happy dog’s tail. In addition, I began to sway as momentum toyed with me. The forced wobbling and the swaying somehow forced my wrist to accelerate the motorcycle. I came down hard on the pavement and went from wobbling and swaying to sliding. Then I was zooming.
The friction against the road tore through my clothes like a child does wrapping paper. The road rash was intense to see—but hard to see through the blood. I was more concerned though about my two broken arms. Both ulnas and both radii shattered like light bulbs. Luckily, this was it—intense road rash and broken arms. I’ve spent more time in P.T. (personal torture) than I care to admit. I expect to go for years to come. And even with all this assistance, with the best surgery and the best physical therapy that I can’t afford, I still can’t type this essay without help. I dictate my words because my fingers can’t nimbly type because my arms can’t support pressure. I needed my wife’s help in fixing the grammatical errors inherent with automated, electronic dictation. I will for every college class I ever will take from now on.
A 300-word essay about my disability? That seems manageable. First, describe my disability. My fingernails are too long for typing; I should cut them. I want them to look long but still be short enough for playing piano. I should practice but it always feels like a chore because – What a lovely bird in the bird bath! I wish I had a garden for garden parties. I should have a tea party! Or dinner… Yeah, I should have dinner. What can I have for dinner? I’ll go look in the fridge.
Ten minutes later, I realize I had walked away from my essay without writing anything. I sit down and attempt to write again. Within five minutes I’ve gotten up and wandered around, only to remember my essay a few minutes later. This vicious cycle continues until the deadline is imminent, panic ensues, and I quickly write something to submit. This is living with ADHD.
My ADHD is particularly evident in my academic career. In grade school, teachers sat me at the front of the class in an attempt to keep my attention, or at the very least keep me from distracting the other students. After school, my parents frequently redirected me to my homework when I would get distracted. When I started college, I was suddenly solely responsible for focusing on my schoolwork. Taking my medication was only half of the battle. I started doing my homework in coffee shops because I discovered I was more productive in dynamic environments. I worked on my assignments early and rotated subjects while studying so that my inability to concentrate wouldn’t diminish my grades. My ADHD will always be a challenge, however, learning to manage my disability independently is one of the most beneficial lessons from my university experience.
During severe depressive episodes, I cannot get out of bed at all for days at a time. I cannot eat, sleep, or function at all. My anxiety builds as the episodes last longer and longer, so times stretching into months preventing me from making many friends, taking part in activities that I have an interest in, and causing severe panic attacks for which I have had to be hospitalized before. During the previous year, I was hospitalized three times due to my disability.
My life has been affected profusely by my disability. I have difficulty in every task that I try to undertake. Holding down jobs is nearly impossible for me, school became unbearable, and caused severe financial strains on my family. The burden this has put on my family and myself has caused great suffering and even great financial problems. I see a psychiatrist monthly, and a psychologist once a week. I recently finished going through a treatment called transcranial magnetic stimulation that is for extreme cases of depression and anxiety. I continue to take antidepressants, anxiolytics, and hypnotics to deal with the symptoms of my illness. The treatment, however, has helped my condition, and I have finally been able to begin focuses on other things besides my own illness.
I had planned to finish all three of my majors at Iowa State University. I was forced to give up on my English and Political Science degrees though. Now I am trying to finish those degrees online, in a less stressful environment, and with the combination of help from my support system and my doctors. When you are forced to chose between your dreams and your health, it is terribly difficult to give up on those dreams, and this scholarship would allow me to fulfill those dreams finally.
Scott Allen is the founder of Allen Law Firm. Scott earned his Juris Doctor degree from the Boalt Hall School of Law (now known as Berkeley Law) at the University of Berkeley in California and has over 20 years of experience practicing personal injury law. He is a member of the State Bar of California and has earned a Superb rating by Avvo. To learn more about Scott, read his full bio here.