Ebone Taylor was all smiles Saturday morning when she received her Master's Degree in Early Childhood Education from Old Dominion University.
"It was exciting. Very exciting. Something that people don`t accomplish in the time period that I did," Taylor said.
Taylor completed her Master's degree in 18-months with a 3.61 grade point average.
That's made more incredible when you learn that Taylor suffers from brain damage and memory loss from a car wreck that nearly killed her.
On February 17, 2005, when Taylor was a high school junior, she was was riding passenger in car that swerved off the road and struck a tree in Richmond.
"I had a traumatic brain injury. A huge gash in my head. Broke my neck. Broke my ankle. Lacertation in the liver," Taylor said. "I wanted to give up but I knew there was a plan for me. I think that I survived that accident that God had a plan for me."
Part of that plan was returning to school sooner rather than later.
"They told my mom that I wouldn`t even go back to school that year. I said 'Oh no! I have to get through this school year. I will go with my neckbrace and everything,'" Taylor said.
Taylor not only graduated high school on time, but also got her bachelor's degree from ODU before earning her Master's this weekend.
All this was despite learning challenges Taylor had to overcome as a result of the wreck.
"It took some learning how to deal with my comprehension being a little bit off. I had to find some methods to help myself get through," Taylor said. "I found ways to try and get acronyms in my head. To write things down over and over to get through those tests. Memorizing helped."
Taylor didn't let her challenges get in the way of Taking Action for her community at ODU through the Office of Student Activities and Leadership.
She began a Homework Helper's program in the Lambert's Point section of Norfolk to help youth with mentoring and homework assistance.
"Parents are working now. They are trying to put food on the table So I figured those kids needed someone like college students to help them get through their homework," Taylor said.
Now Taylor is preparing for her career as an elementary school teacher, but she knows there will be a lot of out-of-pocket expenses involved.
"A lot of children at the school I was at recently they didn’t have bookbags – I’ve never seen that, so you have to find either yourself to do it," Taylor said. "To get them those backpacks and pencils – they don’t have pencils at home. It’s a lot of responsibility on the teachers financially to get their students to be successful."
NewsChannel 3 wanted to honor Taylor for Taking Action in her community and help prepare her classroom with the essentials.
So we surprised Taylor with a $1,000 shopping trip on Tuesday to purchase all sorts of school supplies to make sure Taylor gets her teaching career started on the right foot.
"Thank you so much. I’m speechless right now. I didn’t know how I was going to do it," Taylor said.