The 2nd annual Dirk Derrick Car & Truck Accident Injury Scholarship received over 500 applications from students across the country who have suffered serious injuries from an auto accident or have had a loved one who was involved in a crash that impacted their life significantly. These applications discussed how they overcame the challenges they encountered from the accident and are seeking a scholarship to help continue their education.
This year's winner of the Dirk Derrick Car & Truck Accident Injury Scholarship is a woman who was a nurse in New York and was disabled after a deer ran out in front of her vehicle one evening. Her injuries made it a challenge to continue her nursing career and she has since gone back to school to obtain a degree in Healthcare Management/Public Health at SUNY Canton. Her ambition to overcome her injuries and continue her education make her this year's winner.
Below is our 2019 Dirk Derrick Car & Truck Accident Injury Scholarship winner Desiree Graziano's story:
"It was March 1, 2002 and I was waiting for my boyfriend to come home to go out to dinner with friends. It was getting late, so I proceeded to go to his house to look for him. At around 8:25 I was driving when a deer ran out in front of my car. I swerved so I didn't hit the deer, but struck a telephone pole, rolled my car and was ejected out the back window. I don't remember any of this, this is what I am told happened. I awoke in Albany Medical Hospital on March 19 after being in a medically induced coma and in ICU this entire time, to find out that I had been in a horrible car accident and almost died. My parents by my side when I woke, I remember saying can you scratch my left arm it itches, and my mother started crying, right then I knew something was wrong. I turned to her and said it's not there is it, she let out a big cry and said no its not they had to amputate it or else you were going to die. As the result my left arm had to be amputated because of necrotizing fasciitis otherwise known as the flesh-eating bacteria disease. I was in utter shock how did this happen?? I was a 22-year-old nurse with everything going for me, I have my whole life ahead and now my dreams are over I thought to myself. I was discharged from the hospital to home and all I thought about was my nursing career and what would I do now? I had a four-year-old son to take care of, how am I going to support us? Will I still be able to be a nurse? These were just some if the thoughts that were running through my head. I spoke with my employer and they were willing to keep me employed. So, I worked as a nurse for 7 years. I was terminated from my job in 2009. I tried to find work, but was unsuccessful with my disability. The amputation was and still is a very big obstacle in my life. I have lots of pain in the left side where my arm should be, this is what the doctors say is phantom pain and it’s the nerves that make it hurt. I have a very tough time sleeping and getting comfortable because of my left shoulder area going numb all the time, it feels like pins and needles. My physical ability is limited in ways which one can’t imagine unless in my shoes. There are a lot of things that I can’t do because of needing two arms to do them in life. This obstacle has affected my life in so many ways from the physical to emotional aspects. I’ve had good support from my family and friends to help me try and overcome this massive obstacle, but there are some things that I can’t get past because I have a daily reminder. I have adapted to my permanent disability by learning ways to do things differently and asking for help. I decided in October of 2014 that I was going to go back to college and do something productive and useful with my life, this was one way in which I was trying to overcome what I was dealt. That is just what I have accomplished, I’ve received my Associate’s degree in Business from SUNY Columbia-Greene Community College in 2017. I am continuing for my Bachelor’s degree in Healthcare Management/Public Health at SUNY Canton, where currently my GPA is 3.75. A college education is very important to me so I can advance in my career. I am in financial need because as you can imagine social security disability benefits are not a lot. I have met the maximum allowance for financial aid and am almost at the finish line for completing my degree and would be so grateful if I was to receive this scholarship."
For more information about the Dirk Derrick Car & Truck Accident Injury Scholarship for 2020, please see www.derricklawfirm.com/scholarship.