One moment, Brittany was a focused 16-year-old with good grades, college plans and a bright future. The next moment she was blind. She had been shot in the head by a stray bullet while in a car parked at her friend’s house. But the shooting didn’t dim her future at all. Brittany describes the experience as life-changing, but not devastating. “I was very happy when I woke up the next day,” she recalls. “I was alive. I didn’t have any pain, and I remembered everything.”
Doctors warned Brittany’s parents that she would likely be depressed after such a traumatizing event. But not Brittany. “I couldn’t see my future ending when I was 16,” Brittany says. “I didn’t want to be a statistic. I still was smart, and I wanted to go to a university like I had planned.”
The shooting occurred in May 2012, so Brittany spent the summer recovering. She went back to high school in September with an aide to guide her through the hallways. Her grade point average during her senior year was 4.0. Brittany entered Wayfinder’s Assistive Technology Training in the summer before college to learn computer screen-reader software to write papers and do research. “People told me I shouldn’t go to college yet, that it would take six months to learn assistive technology,” says Brittany. “But I insisted I was going to be done in three months.” And she was.
At Cal State Dominguez Hills, Brittany earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology in four-and-a- half years. Then she entered Wayfinder’s Davidson Program for Independence to learn independent living skills like mobility and braille.
“Brittany is resilient. She has what it takes,” says Allison Burdett, Wayfinder’s associate VP, visual impairment & developmental disabilities services. “Having something so life-altering happen—a lot of people never recover the life they wanted. But Brittany wasn’t going to be sidetracked.”
Before the pandemic paused everyone’s life, Brittany was working at a restaurant that lets patrons experience blindness by dining in the dark, as well as co-facilitating Wayfinder’s trainings for mental health clinicians treating people with disabilities.
Brittany is unstoppable. She plans to apply to master’s programs in social work. Brittany credits Wayfinder with helping her achieve her goals: “Wayfinder is a stepping stone to becoming a functioning, visually impaired individual and an independent individual.”
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December 15, 2020