05/11/07 — WCC graduate overcame brain injury to rebuild her life, career

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WCC graduate overcame brain injury to rebuild her life, career

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on May 11, 2007 1:45 PM

Tiffany Mills of Grantham almost died several times while in a coma at Pitt Memorial Hospital. Doctors didn't know if she would survive. They said she would never walk again.

Tiffany, now 22, is not only walking. She will graduate Saturday from Wayne Community College with a diploma in business administration. And if all goes as expected, she will receive her associate degree in December.

Tiffany doesn't remember being thrown onto the highway from the back seat of a four-wheeler in 2003 or the helicopter that took her to the hospital with a severe brain injury. She doesn't remember anything from that summer.

She was in a coma for nearly a month and after a two-month stay at Pitt, she came to Renu Life in Goldsboro for another four months of 24-hour care.

Her oldest sister, Glenda Bass worked at Renu Life, and her mother, Debbie Mills, worked there second shift. After the accident, her twin brother, Bill, went to work there, too.

"Thank God we knew how to work with traumatic brain injury," Debbie said.

If they didn't, she said, the family would not have known to push her.

When the family would bring Tiffany home on weekends from Pitt, all she wanted to do was go to her room and close the door.

The family would have none of that. They knew if you push a victim of traumatic brain injury, you always see results.

"A lot of parents don't push them. If you don't know how to work with (TBI), it can be bad," he mother said.

But Tiffany has always pushed herself, too. When the accident happened, she was working two jobs and attending Wayne Community College. She was working toward her associate degree to transfer to a university and realize her lifelong dream to become an elementary school teacher.

She is a substitute teacher now.

"Who knows? It might lead to something," she said.

At first when she returned to Wayne Community, she figured she would only be able to earn a one-year diplaom. But her advisor, Norm Crumpacker, told her there was no need to stop there and that she should pursue her associate degree.

The doctors had told her to start out with just one course.

She started with three.

"She's just a miracle," her mother said.