Until the night of December 11th, my life was going in one direction. Academics, athletics and social life were things I didn’t have to really work at. Maybe I was taking life’s course up until then for granted. In the fall of 2011, I studied in Guatemala with the University of Arizona. I enjoyed learning about the culture and Latin American philosophy – embracing and appreciating the world around me. After the semester culminated, I traveled to Ometepe, Nicaragua, with friends I made while in Antigua. On a fateful night, I was offered a motorcycle ride to where I was staying on the island. A head-on collision with a drunk motorcyclist took the life of the person who offered me the ride and my life took another direction from that second on.
I was on a remote island in a developing country. There was no water ambulance, no ground ambulance and no medical help. It took nearly eleven hours before I made it to a Managua hospital. I had suffered a traumatic brain injury and the orthopedic injuries I sustained required a series of blood transfusions. I spent a week in a coma.
Finally, I was medically evacuated to Tucson, Arizona. The obstacles before me became daunting and (I’ve been told) impossible. As I emerged from unconsciousness, I couldn’t swallow, speak or understand simple commands. I had survived, but at what price? I recall spending a period of time depressed and disillusioned at what I had lost. At one point, doctors told my mother that I would need assisted living and that I would never be independent. I know she was devastated to learn that I may never return to school. The future looked bleak, at least temporarily.
Through intense therapy and the support of my mother, sister, friends and community, I was determined to regain what the accident claimed. I also began to focus on the positive. I realized, even while my brain was healing, that there must be a lesson to learn from the hardships of the last eight months of recovery. My experiences were life-changing. With a new found philosophy, I became determined to overcome deficits left by the accident but also help and inspire others to do the same.
I have returned to the University of Arizona and will apply to Eller Business School after spring semester. My career path changed after witnessing the struggle, creative and hardworking people in Guatemala experience to gain minute business success. My goal is to graduate with an International Business degree. Identifying ways to empower small Central American businesses and develop sustainable work environments while bridging international barriers supports my new course and direction in earning my college degree. I was fortunate to be given a second chance on life and my dream to graduate and make positive contributions is stronger than ever.
LatPro.com’s scholarship program is proud to announce Iustin McCarthy-Contreras as one of the finalists for its December 2012 application deadline. Vote for his essay (Facebook ‘Like’ and other social media sharing options in left column), click the ‘star’ just above comments section below, and/or leave comments of support to help us with the selection process.