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by Jerri Whitner, Student Contributor

Kaela Shaw is not one to let the hard times in life keep her down. Throughout Kaela’s life she has bounced back from countless trials as a stronger woman. The trials that Kaela has overcome have given her a desire to help others that may be struggling with similar circumstances. Alice Lloyd College has given Kaela the opportunity to make a difference in others’ lives-an opportunity that she will never forget.

Kaela is from Bidwell, Ohio, and she is a junior at Alice Lloyd College where she is pursuing a major in Kinesiology and a minor in Business Administration. She chose her major because of an experience she had in high school. Kaela graduated at the top ten percent of her class from River Valley High School in 2015. She participated in the National Honor Society, Beta Club, and numerous sports as well as being her Senior class secretary. Kaela’s fast paced and active life was slowed down considerably when she found out that her right knee had been severely damaged. For over one year the doctors could not determine the cause of Kaela’s knee pain, as a result she walked around with pain equivalent to an ACL tear. Finally, the doctors discovered that her muscles had stripped themselves and calloused behind her knee. She described this time by saying, “It was really scary because we didn’t know if I would be able to walk again.”

In order to help her strengthen her knee, Kaela had to take extensive physical therapy. Kaela did not know what to expect at her first appointment, but her physical therapist, Mike Hemphill, helped her to become more comfortable with therapy. Even though Kaela was becoming comfortable with her therapy she still had a difficult time strengthening her knee. After several appointments her physical therapist would release her to play sports again, but she would relapse and have to go back to therapy. The constant up and down of her health took a toll on Kaela’s mental stability and she became depressed. However, the personal connection that Kaela made with her physical therapist made a huge difference in her life. Kaela said, “My therapists gave me hope when I didn’t believe it.” Mike was the one that Kaela really opened up to about her problems and he took her pain and depression and made it into a challenge that could be beaten.

Even though Kaela will have to take more physical therapy in the future, the impact that Mike had on her life has inspired her to follow in his footsteps. “I want to be able to give children that hope of ‘yeah life has kind of thrown you a curve ball, but this is not your last stop. You are going to be able to do the things you’ve done and so much more,’” Kaela said as she expressed her plans for the future. After Kaela graduates she hopes to attend graduate school at Ohio State University and then she plans to come back to Kentucky to practice her profession. Kaela’s ultimate goal, though, is to work at Shriner’s Hospital specifically with burn patients as well as kids recovering from surgery.

At ALC all full time students are required to participate in the Work Study Program and Kaela fulfills this requirement by serving as the Administrative Assistant to the Voices of Appalachia (VoA). She believes that her work study position is preparing her for a future career because she is learning how to track records, personally communicate with others, make appointments, and so much more. The warm and personal atmosphere that Kaela has in her work study office is one that she hopes to transfer over to her career. The dedication that Kaela has toward her work study does not go unnoticed, as an example last spring Kaela was awarded the Student Worker of the Year Award in the VoA office. In addition to Kaela’s work study, she participates in other organizations on campus such as VoA, Allied Health Club, the Student Rural Health Association, and cheer squad.

The opportunity that Kaela has been given at ALC has allowed her to make connections and have an impact in the community. Kaela said of her experience at ALC, “There are so many possible paths available because of the opportunity that has been provided to me. The donors are the main part.” Kaela has been able to overcome struggles with the help of others, but she is now going to be able to make a difference in others’ lives because of the opportunity that has been given to her at ALC. Every year ALC enables students like Kaela to follow their servant hearts and make a difference.