Thursday, February 7, 2013

Brittany Mallow: Overcoming the Odds

By: Tori Martin, ENG 336.002

On first glance, junior Brittany Mallow seems like your average college student. Conversely, she’s everything but.

Growing up in Western Maryland, more specifically Garrett County, Mallow had always been a little different. From a young age, she had a prominent interest in politics, thanks in part to her World War II veteran grandfather. Mallow credits their relationship with being a reason for her chosen political science major. Her interest in politics created a challenge growing up as a liberal in an area that she says is focused on “guns, God, and Nascar.” While politics plays a big role in Mallow’s life, sports have played an even larger one. In high school, she was an active participant in basketball and soccer. It was her soccer passion that would change the course of her entire life.
Five years ago during an evening game warm-up, another teammate kicked a soccer ball directly into Mallow’s temple. She describes it as a “freak accident,” which caused the then high school sophomore to suffer a Traumatic Brain Injury that led to stroke like symptons including a drooped right side of her mouth which led to a speech impediment, as well as the inability to move her right are and leg normally. While she only stayed in the hospital for a week, the injury caused Mallow to miss the remainder of her sophomore year and instead having to be tutored at home while receiving around the clock care. The incident took a large toll on her family leading her mother to pen a letter to the Cumberland Times about the experience.  
Coming back to school was a challenge for Mallow has it required her to “stand on [her] own two feet,” both physically and metaphorically. After returning, Mallow again pursued sports but had to remain on the junior varsity teams because of the time she missed, something she feels allowed her to grow as both a leader and a person. Because of her accident, Mallow was and still is eligible to receive accommodations for her disability. Instead, she chooses to forego the extra help because she feels that she doesn’t need the crutch.

Today, Mallow is remarkably healthy. While stress can cause intense migraines that can lead to even larger relapse issues, Mallow manages to balance being a full time student, employee at WISP, and coaching children’s sports teams. Though she will probably deal with challenges caused by the accident for the rest of her life, Mallow is fully confident in her ability to succeed in school as well as in life. She has overcome the odds once so there is no doubt that she will do it again.

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