Chillicothe student Charma Brown uses accident
Charma Brown’s approach to life illustrates the importance of perspective. Where others may view a situation as a challenge, Brown sees an opportunity.
Brown, 29, earned her associate degree in human services technology from Ohio University-Chillicothe this spring after overcoming a hiking accident in 2006 that left her paralyzed.
“After the accident, I saw it as an opportunity to take classes and to pursue an education,” the Chillicothe resident said. “While the accident left me paralyzed, it also gave me an open door. So, since I had that open door, I decided to walk through it.”
She sustained the accident after falling off a cliff while hiking in the Hocking Hills. While the incident impacted her mobility, Brown’s spirit remains intact.
“Since the accident, I have had some ups and downs. It seems weird to say but, in many ways, I think my life is better,” she said. “It has opened doors to opportunities to do things that I would not have been able to do before. I can tell my story to others who may find it inspiring. Because of the accident, I have had the opportunity to meet new people and talk with them.”
Brown’s educational journey has had its share of twists and turns. Her family moved often while she was growing up, and she never had a “home” school. Instead, Brown earned her GED (General Education Development) degree when she was 21 years old. “I wanted to be able to have a job I really wanted,” she said.
Following the hiking accident, Brown enrolled at OU-C at the age of 27. She intends to continue her education this fall to work toward a bachelor’s degree and plans to eventually earn a master’s degree in education and become a counselor. “It helps to know the troubled side of life and how to overcome challenges so that I better understand the struggles that people have with certain difficulties,” she said.
She is enjoying her college experience.
“College means more to me now than it probably would have at another time,” Brown said. “When you are younger, you do not have a sense of exactly what you want to do and may tend to take things as important as education for granted. Being nearly 30 years old, I better understand the importance of what I am doing.”
“So far, my OU-C experience has been great. The fact that it is more of a community-based campus and there is more interaction with instructors and classmates makes it more comfortable,” Brown said.
Brown has inspired others through her attitude and her actions.
“Charma is an active student, not only in the classroom but in the community where she volunteers extra time for social service causes as a member of the Human Services Association,” OU-C faculty member Barbara Mahaffey said. “She is an inspiration to me as Charma encouraged me to be more energetic. As an example, I will remember how she effectively handed out more candy while beating me around the parade route for the Halloween Parade in Chillicothe. In classes she contributes with thoughtful and insightful presentations I would expect to see in a doctoral program.” Mahaffey is an assistant professor and coordinator of the Human Services Technology program.
Her hobbies include spending time with her dog Dexter (“He is like a child to me”), photography, attending church and spending time with her family and friends.
“I really enjoy life as it comes to me and try to not miss one of those precious moments that seem to slip by you more and more the older you get and the faster life gets,” she said.
PHOTO: Charma Brown with Dexter.