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Kelli Gary, PhD:

Kelli Gary, PhD: "A New Start, a New School"

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[Kelli Williams Gary, PhD] I found a very small college called Chicago State University that was a small bus ride from my house. So I went to the school and started to inquire about enrolling in possibly just one class as a non-matriculating student. And that's what I decided to do. The one thing that I did differently besides talking to healthcare professionals is that I decided to take it one step at a time. So I did not know what I wanted to do, but I knew I wanted to start to be engaged in school. That was probably one of the hardest emotional things— to really think that you are now at a point where you're at a remedial level when I had done so much. Even at that point, at least finishing 2 years of undergraduate at a 4-year institution. The way that I got through that is through self-talk— telling myself that, this is what you need. And you kind of have to take a step back before you can take 2 steps forward. Actually that's been my mantra to this very day as I've wanted to work towards something that I've wanted. Even at this level today, there are some times when I've done things where I've taken a step back so that I can take 2 steps forward. I knew that I was going to go further, but I couldn't go much further if I didn't get the basics down.

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Even today, after earning her PhD and two masters degrees, Kelli Gary, PhD knows that, with a TBI, sometimes you have to take one step back in order to take two steps forward.

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Produced by Sharon Ladin, Justin Rhodes, and Lara Collins, BrainLine.

Kelli Williams Gary, PhD, MPH, OTR/LKelli Williams Gary, PhD, MPH, OTR/L is an assistant professor in the department of occupational therapy at Virginia Commonwealth University. She sustained a severe traumatic brain injury in 1991.

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