The holidays are for spreading joy and celebrating with family — and this time, for recent University of North Texas graduate Amber Lacy, for celebrating her completion of college.
In 2013, after finishing high school in Shreveport, Louisiana, Lacy was in a car crash that left her with brain trauma, a collapsed lung and a broken collarbone, forcing her to relearn basic skills such as reading, writing and getting dressed.
"We take little things for granted like getting dressed and remembering what we had for breakfast that day because we have been doing it forever just growing up," Lacy said. "When you can't do it anymore it's just really frustrating, like you know you can do it, but you can't."
A truck had T-boned the car Lacy was riding in with four friends after leaving another friend's house. Lacy was sitting behind the driver, in the spot where the truck struck their vehicle.
Eighteen-year-old Lacy suffered the worst injuries that day.
With Lacy in and out of physical therapy sessions, her original plans to attend Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge were postponed. Lacy said her situation was irritating at first.
She spent about six months in physical therapy, where she relearned basic skills.
"It was really hard — it seemed like the recovery process went fast, but during the time it was really frustrating," Lacy said.
She said support poured out for her during her recovery process, and said she couldn't credit just one person for being there for her the most.
"Everyone was fine and happy because I was OK, and I lived through something like that," Lacy said. "But they were supportive through the whole thing."
After she was initially treated at a hospital in Shreveport, she was transferred to Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, where she said the staff could take better care for her medical needs.
With her treatment complete, Lacy began her college career at LSU Shreveport, then moved to Dallas again to be near her mother and began school at Eastfield College.
Here in North Texas, she discovered UNT and fell in love with the Mayborn School of Journalism, where she continued her education in broadcast journalism.
Last weekend, Lacy defied her doctors' odds four years later and walked across the stage at commencement.
Lacy, who has completed an internship at KLTY-FM (94.9), said she plans on staying in her new home of Dallas to continue her journalism career at Seacrest Studios — interactive spaces inside Children's Medical Center where young patients can explore the creative aspects of radio, television and new media. She'll also be working with iHeartMedia as part of the radio station company's promotions team.
"I'm about to start working at a radio station in Dallas [so] for now, I definitely plan on staying just because I always wanted to live in Dallas anyways," Lacy said. "There's so many more opportunities than Louisiana ever had."
FEATURED PHOTO: Amber Lacy graduated this semester from the University of North Texas, roughly four years after a bad car accident left her with a traumatic brain injury and other serious injuries. (Courtesy photo/UNT)