The Resilient Spirit: Nicole’s Story of Triumph

    [fa icon="calendar"] Mar 15, 2024 1:00:00 PM / by Sam Stockman

    Sam Stockman

    Nicole Morrison - TEC Clarksville

    On April 3, 2012, Nicole Morrison left her classroom and took a walk with a close friend, unaware of the life-changing event awaiting her. She was struck from behind by a vehicle operated by an intoxicated driver, resulting in a broken neck, cervical spine, skull and a serious concussion. 

    "I have no memory of the accident,” Nicole said. “I remember leaving school, being across the street and waking up in the hospital." 

    In recognition of Traumatic Brain Injury Month, Nicole shared her own journey overcoming the injuries she sustained on that fateful day.

    Rushed to University of Louisville University Trauma Hospital, Nicole underwent a six-hour surgery, leading to a 10-day medically-induced coma. The road to recovery would prove lengthy and difficult, but Nicole's determination gave her the drive to persevere. 

    Over the next several months, Nicole worked through various therapies and medical procedures, with doctors acknowledging her relentless commitment to recovery. Encouraged by their support, she progressed toward reclaiming her life and eventually returned to teaching. After the accident, Nicole would go on to become a James Madison Fellow and earn her second and third master’s degrees at Ashland University and  Georgetown University, proving once more that nothing can stop her. 

    "I wanted to prove that I could do this, that I could get back to normal," Nicole said.

    While updating her teaching license, Nicole discovered a teaching opportunity at The Excel Center, Goodwill’s tuition-free high school for adults. She applied the following school year and received a call the very next day. Starting as a humanities teacher at The Excel Center in Clarksville, Nicole continued to grow in her new role, going on to teach various English, history, and creative courses. She found passion in helping students find their place in society. 

    Now, after five years, Nicole serves as the Lead Teacher at The Excel Center, supporting both students and fellow educators. She also engages in various education committees, such as  supporting graduation ceremonies, new student orientation, and diversity, equity, and inclusion. Nicole credits her colleagues for helping rebuild her confidence post-accident. She enjoys her one-on-one time with students and acknowledges The Excel Center is much more student-focused than where she had worked in the past. 

    Individuals recovering from brain injuries often encounter post-recovery skepticism about their capabilities. Nicole aims to prove to others, and more importantly to herself, that she can overcome any barrier, by utilizing her past experiences and strong spirit to show her students that anything is possible. She encourages everyone to persevere, emphasizing the importance of reaching out for help when it's needed. 

    “I am forever grateful to the team at the University of Louisville and Southern Indiana Rehabilitation Hospital for their encouragement and support,” Nicole said. 

    Looking ahead, Nicole plans to continue her journey in education, contemplating involving herself in the school's curriculum development for future students. She remains a staunch advocate for students, teachers and herself.

    "I can do this, I will do it,” Nicole said. “I deserve it."


    Are you interested in a career at The Excel Center? Check out our website for current opportunities!

    Topics: The Excel Center, Education, Southern Indiana, Goodwill Education

    Sam Stockman

    Written by Sam Stockman

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