Student Profile: Grace Pannell

Name: Grace Pannell

Residence: Rock Hill, S.C.

Major: Special education

One second, Grace Pannell was going for a rebound on the basketball court. The next, she was on the court floor, dizzy and in pain.

That fall, and subsequent falls on the court in the same game, resulted in Pannell suffering a traumatic brain injury (TBI). After six months of little to no healing or improvement, doctors told her she would never hold a job or attend college. Her parents converted their basement into an apartment, thinking their daughter would need to live with them for the rest of her life.

"I do not remember much of that time besides I slept a lot," she said. "I would also get up on Sundays to go to church because I knew if there was any hope in this situation, then that hope had to be found in a good and loving God, and I wanted to know as much as I could about Him."

But Pannell never lost her faith, and she's since proven the doctors wrong. As a senior special education major at Winthrop University, she's joined Cross Impact and the Baptist Collegiate Ministry (BCM); worked as a peer mentor; volunteers with Harvest Baptist of Rock Hill; and volunteers at a psychiatric treatment center, where she works with young girls and provides religious counseling.

While Pannell still lives with a constant headache every day, the pain is not quite as excruciating. In fact, she calls the pain a "reminder of God's goodness in her life."

She hopes to extend that same goodness to her future special needs students. She remembers times during her recovery where she couldn't speak or articulate what she wanted, or the time when she walked into a room, saw the furniture was arranged differently, and felt like someone had hit her in the head with a hammer.

"I remember what it was like to not be able to express what I was thinking," she said. "…I want to be kind and loving as I meet the needs of those whose brains work just a little differently than most. They are not less than anyone else; they simply have a brain that works a little differently than others. For a while, my brain worked differently too, so I understand in a small way what it is like."

Photo courtesy of Blonde Moments Photography.

Last updated by FMBUser2 05/30/2018