Mother, veteran with traumatic brain injury is student speaker at T.C.C. graduation

NORFOLK, Va. - A veteran with a traumatic brain injury has overcome many challenges, including what she did Monday night: graduate from Tidewater Community College with honors.

The ceremony was held at the Ted Constant Convocation Center on the ODU campus.

"It's crazy to think how quickly life can change in a year," said T.C.C. Student Speaker Jessica Evans.

The 26-year-old graduated with an Associate of Science in Business Administration and was the student speaker for her class with her 2-year-old son, husband and loved ones watching in the crowd.

Her adulthood started with a call to serve our country.

"Twenty days after high school graduation, I was at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, for basic training, turned 18 in basic training," said Evans.

She served six years in the Army National Guard.

"When I was in Iraq, I took a blow to the head. At the time, I didn't know it was anything more than a concussion," said Evans.

But she said it turned out to be a traumatic brain injury.

Evans said she suffered from intense headaches, memory loss and PTSD.

"When I first became a student at T.C.C., I was very depressed. I was not happy with my life," said Evans.

Then she got help and was inspired by her teachers and mentors, like the Dean of Student Services, Dana Singleton.

"That's what makes her extraordinary. She's overcome that and not only has she overcome it, she's excelled while doing it," said Singleton. "She's going to succeed."

Evans said once she realized that she was the only one preventing her from moving forward, her life changed.

"You always hear, 'it takes a village to raise a child,' but it really takes a village to get through life. We don't accomplish anything by ourselves, and something that T.C.C. really taught me was how important it is to be supportive of others and how important it is to seek that support from others," said Evans.

She plans to go to Norfolk State this spring and major in construction technology.