Despite life-changing trauma, Rebecca Prince, Carroll Community College graduate, plans for life working with kids

Despite the adversity in life, Rebecca Prince will walk across the stage at Carroll Community College’s commencement on Wednesday, May 23, at McDaniel College in Westminster.

Everything changed for Rebecca Prince on June 14, 2002.

Prince, of Taneytown, was driving home after hanging out with her boyfriend and best friend.


A drunken driver — a classmate at her school, Francis Scott Key High School, Prince would later learn — struck her stopped vehicle going 80 mph.

Just 17 years old at the time, Prince was left in a coma for 18 days. She suffered a traumatic brain injury and, to this day, is weak on her left side.


“It has been very hard,” Prince said.

But despite the adversity in life, Prince walked across the stage at Carroll Community College’s commencement on Wednesday, May 23, at McDaniel College in Westminster.

She comes out with an associate’s degree in early childhood education and one goal in mind, to work with kids — specifically those with special needs who have struggled as she has.

“I had to learn how to do everything,” after the accident, Prince said, later adding, “I used to get so frustrated.”

Prince doesn’t remember her past. Her first memory, which she wrote about for her English 101 class in 2010, was waking up in the hospital after the accident.

The nearly 300 students, ranging in age from 18 to 64, graduated Wednesday afternoon at the 25th commencement ceremony.

She remembers waking up in a strange room and looking in the mirror to see that the hair on the right side of her head was only about an inch long. Prince tried to sit up, and noticed a feeding tube coming out of her stomach. She tried to roll over, and found she could barely move her left leg — her left arm wouldn’t move at all.

“I became very scared and even more confused,” she said.

Prince remembers that scene so vividly — just like it was yesterday, despite the nearly 16 years that have passed.

Life has changed drastically over the more than decade-and-a-half since the accident.

Prince attended Carroll Community College part-time, off and on, over the years. She started with the most basic reading course, because the crash knocked her back “10 years academically,” she said.

“They were challenging, but I passed them with an A or B,” she said.

She took time off at one point to take care of herself when she was struggling emotionally. Prince said she was “suicidal,” but her friends and family were there to help support her and get her through it. Her little brother, Jason, was especially helpful, she said.


A few years later, Prince took time off, but this time, for something that changed her life for the better.

On Sept. 11, 2013, her son, James, was born.

“He is my sunshine and he is my miracle,” Prince said.

She was never supposed to be able to carry a child, Prince said. But she didn’t have a bad pregnancy. God made her strong inside and out so she could carry and take care of her son, she said.

James is now 4, and is smart, fun and inquisitive, Prince said.

“When he was born I let go of all of my anger and all my depression,” she said.

Carole Williamson, assistant professor and program director of early childhood education, said she has seen Prince grow over her time at Carroll. Williamson said Prince has taken what she learned in class and not only applied it to the students she’s worked with, but also to her own son.

“She’s just blossomed tremendously,” Williamson said.

It’s been about three years since William Anoh came to America. And in those three years, Anoh, 20, of Ghana, has grown — personally, socially and educationally. May 23, Anoh will come away from Carroll Community College with a degree in social sciences and a plan to head to Towson University.

Kris Holocker, instructor in education, echoed Williamson’s comments. Prince has grown so much and has just become a professional, she said.

“She can absorb and apply. She absorbs any kind of knowledge you give her and she applies it to real world classroom situations,” Holocker added.

Prince has always wanted to work with kids. She started babysitting when she was about 10 years old, taking time to watch neighborhood kids and her cousins.

“I’ve always have been good with kids,” she said.

Even after the car crash, Prince said when she was in a transitional program through the Kennedy Krieger Institute for people under 18, she worked to help the other patients. She was one of the oldest, and there were a few little ones there, she said.

Prince said she would play with them and help them and remind them not to give up.

While she said she’s open to any field dealing with early childhood education, Prince really wants to help kids who have been where she is.

“Because of what I’ve been through — I want to specialize [in] children with brain injuries,” she said.

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