De Caro & Kaplen, LLP is proud to have presented the sixth annual Traumatic Brain Injury Scholarship to Erin Newcomb, a junior at Indiana University, Bloomington Campus with a major in psychology.
The annual award — a $1,000 scholarship for an individual who has sustained a traumatic or acquired brain injury and is pursuing a higher education — was presented during Brain Injury Awareness Month, a public awareness campaign led by the Brain Injury Association of America.
In announcing the winner, partner Shana De Caro, immediate past Chairwoman of the Brain Injury Association of America, said, “March is Brain Injury Awareness Month in the United States, a time to raise critical awareness of the invisible epidemic that impacts the daily lives of millions of Americans. With our annual scholarship, we aim to help an individual with a brain injury achieve his/her goal of pursuing a higher education.”
The recipient of the award, Erin Newcomb, had her life turned upside down in August of 2018, when a truck crashed into the passenger-side door of her friend’s car while crossing an intersection near her high school, in Indiana. Newcomb’s horrific injuries included broken and shattered bones, damaged organs, and a traumatic brain injury.
Michael V. Kaplen, a three-term president of the Brain Injury Association of New York State, and professorial lecturer at law, teaching a course in brain injury law at the George Washington University Law School, explains why their firm chose Newcomb as the most recent winner of their scholarship, “Erin’s amazing story of perseverance after suffering horrendous injuries in a car crash is nothing short of inspirational. The experience, rather than embittering her, has motivated her to pursue a degree in psychology with the ultimate career goal of teaching special education. Erin is precisely the type of individual our award was intended to benefit.”
In the letter attached to her application, Newcomb said she hoped to use her own experiences to help others in the future, “I plan on committing my life work to caring for and educating special-needs children. I want to be ‘that person’ in childrens’ lives who will actually understand the struggles they deal with, because I’ve been in similar mental states myself, and help them learn.”
Newcomb continued, “The car wreck, my extensive injuries, and my severe traumatic brain injury were very difficult to endure and took many months of rehabilitation to overcome. However, going through all of this has motivated me to reach out and provide aid to others in the same ways that I needed it. Hopefully, in some small way, I can demonstrate to them that their struggles do not define who they are or limit their future. Rather, their struggles can become their strength and their tool for helping others.”
In a post-award interview with Michael V. Kaplen, published on the firm’s YouTube channel, Newcomb offered advice for others whose lives may have been changed by traumatic brain injury, “It’s okay to be different. It’s okay to not be the same person that you used to be. The person you are today is who God intended you to be. Everything happens for a reason and he has a plan. God has a plan. And if this is not what you planned on, it’s what he’s planning on. It will all work out. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other and doing your best and everything else will work itself out.”
The Traumatic Brain Injury Scholarship is an annual award for students who have sustained a brain injury. Applications for the next award, to be distributed in late Summer 2023, can now be submitted on the firm’s website at https://brainlaw.com/traumatic-brain-injury-scholarship-fund/.
Watch an interview with 2022 scholarship winner Erin Newcomb below.