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Molly Welch

Graduate in the Department of Communication and Journalism
College of Liberal Arts

Graduating college is a feat for most students. Years of studying, writing, learning, and exploring are finally culminated into a walk across the Auburn Arena stage to receive a diploma and officially become an Auburn University alum. However, for one student graduating this December, the path to graduation has been far more difficult.

Molly Welch planned to graduate in December 2008, a semester earlier than the traditional four-year plan. However, that February, Welch's life changed forever. Welch had just finished eating lunch with her parents and was driving on Interstate 85. One exit away from Auburn University, Welch crossed the interstate median and hit a pick-up truck head on. Welch believes she fainted, which she had done twice before as an Auburn student. She doesn't remember the accident or several months prior.

Welch sustained brain damage to the left side, which therefore affected the right side of her body and caused spinal damage. Welch has had to relearn to talk, walk, eat and do everyday tasks. The journalism major even had to relearn to write, now with her left hand.

This month, Welch is finally going to take those steps across the stage and receive her diploma - steps some said she would never take again for a degree some said she would never obtain. Welch has been pushing the limits and boundaries of her capabilities for years, and this time she'll have a journalism degree to show for it.

1. This fall, the Department of Communication and Journalism and The Auburn Plainsman hosted a support night in your honor at Brick Oven Pizza. What did that support mean to you?

The fundraiser was such a gift. Brick Oven was where I worked when the accident occurred and about a year before that, too. I was surrounded by kind and familiar faces, for example, the managers who I used to work for and the wonderful journalism staff that helped me. My brother, Paul, even got his fraternity, Kappa Sigma, to help out.

2. You are a recipient of a Cindy Donald Dreams of Recovery Foundation grant, an organization whose goal is to help those who have suffered the effects of paralysis due to spinal cord and/or brain injuries. How has this helped you along your path to recovery?

The Cindy Donald Dreams of Recovery Foundation has helped so much. It helped me pay off Beyond Therapy, a rigorous, activity-based program designed to help people with a variety of neurological disorders at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta. I would be nowhere without that program. Beyond Therapy has helped me recover so much! It's honestly what I strive for.

3. What has been the most significant part of your path to graduation?

I started it, and I've got to finish it. That's the path I chose to take. I would be sitting on my rear end and moping if I didn't do it.

4. What does it mean to you to be graduating this December?

It is so good to graduate with my little brother Paul! He's 18 months younger than I am, but I'll still beat him! I graduate at 10 a.m. and he doesn't graduate until 2 p.m.!

5. What are your plans for after graduation?

After graduation I hope to work for the Shepherd Center. I'm volunteering for them now. They saved my life, so I'm kind of fond of them!

Dec. 12, 2011