When Anthony Ervin’s parents arrived at a hospital in Tullahoma, Tennessee five years ago, doctors told them that their son had little chance of survival after his car had hit a tree. Not only did Ervin survive, but he thrived. He went on to graduate summa cum laude from the UTC College of Health, Education and Professional Studies and was accepted into the UTC Doctorate of Physical Therapy program this fall.

Though it took Ervin several years to recover from a traumatic brain injury and other injuries from the car wreck before he could go back to college, the process did help him choose his major.

“I decided I wanted to be a physical therapist after the accident. The best physical therapists I know are the ones who’ve been through something similar to me. They understand what patients are going through. I want to help people make a great jump like I did,” he said.

Though Ervin made a miraculous recovery, he still deals with side effects from his injuries.

“I physically hurt every day and do not have the memory or spelling and punctuation skills I once had. I’m also still blind in my right eye,” he said.

Realizing he was struggling with his classes at UTC, Ervin decided to seek the assistance of Student Support Services and the Office of Disabilities.

“At first, I was stubborn and didn’t want to admit I needed the extra help, but it made all the difference. The faculty and staff are not here to see you fail. They want to help. You just have to ask,” he said.

Director of UTC Student Support Services (SSS), Shirl Gholston said, “His attitude is surprising considering the daily challenges he has to endure. He is a remarkable and humble person and never, ever complains about his problems or even alludes to the fact that school was more difficult for him than other students.”

All of Ervin’s hard work paid off when he graduated with honors and was accepted into the Doctorate of Physical Therapy program.

“Getting into the program is plum awesome! I’m very proud, but I think my mom is more proud. She was with me every day in the hospital, and I lived with her for two years after the accident. I got my drive to succeed from her. I wanted to do this for her,” he said.

“If I hadn’t been in the wreck, there’s no telling where I would be. Now, I want to help people. I want to tell them, ‘You can’t limit yourself. You have to push through it. Just because something bad happened to you doesn’t mean it has to be the end,’” he continued.

Ervin plans to give back to SSS by becoming a tutor.

“I’m going to see how my first semester of school goes. If I can handle it, I really want to get involved and help other people,” he said.

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