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HPU Grad, Quadriplegic: Every Day Is A New Day

5:55 AM, May 2, 2013   |    comments
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High Point, NC -- You probably have a rough day from time to time -- we all do.  But it's your attitude that helps you get over it or get stuck on it.

A senior at High Point University might make you think twice before you let a rough day get to you next time.

When the class of 2013 graduates this weekend from HPU, Collin Smith will be among them.

But Smith has had to use a lot more than his smarts to earn a diploma.

For the past four years, Smith has gone to class just like every other kid on campus.

"I just knew that's what I was going to do. It wasn't a question at all," said Smith.

But Smith isn't your typical college kid.

"I've had a lot of cool experiences that help me see that, hey, you know, I can do this and it is possible. Yeah, it's a bad situation, but I'm still here," said Smith.

Seven years ago, Smith was in a car accident.

"One night we were coming back from football practice and I saw headlights. And the next thing I remember, I was in the hospital. I woke up and I wasn't able to move anything at all," said Smith. "I ended up paralyzed from the neck down basically...or chest down."

The former athlete spent weeks in the hospital and months in rehabilitation. He's now a quadriplegic.

"It is tough being told by a physical therapist, quite bluntly, you're never going to walk again," he said.

But Smith didn't let life drag him down.

"Yes, there were certain days, where you're just like, 'man, this stinks.' But you know, every day's a new day," he said.

Smith's friend from church, Ernest Greene, has been there to help him every step of the way.

"I knew that the Lord wanted me to offer my services to that family in whatever way would meet their needs," said Greene.

Greene has been by Smith's side since the day he started college. He gets him ready for school in the morning, goes to class with him, takes notes, and takes him home at night.

"Ernest is one of the main reasons, I believe, I am where I am today," said Smith. "He's basically been my hands and feet for me when I haven't been able to do things, you know?"

Throughout the last four years, Smith has learned a lot more than what's in the books.

"I struggled after my accident with my identity," he said. "Part of the void that got filled this year was being with the basketball team. I was able to work with them. And I was at all the practices and games."

Smith said he actually felt like part of a team this year. And though graduation is bittersweet, both he and Greene are ready for their next chapter.

"You have to move on in life. But I believe I've been equipped with the tools that can help me do that," said Smith.

Smith doesn't have a job lined up yet, but he does have a potential internship. He said he hopes to be a coach or work in an athletics department.

HPU's commencement is Saturday at 9 a.m. Smith plans to cross the stage to get his diploma and Greene will be right there with him.

WFMY News 2

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