Home Health & Education Motivational speaker ignites triumph over adversity for TSU students

Motivational speaker ignites triumph over adversity for TSU students

by PRIDE Newsdesk
Shortly after Timothy Alexander’s speech at TSU, Cassandra Brown (l) takes a photo with the motivational speaker.

by Alexis Clark

Cassandra Brown covers herself with a ‘coat of gratitude’ every morning after surviving a shooting incident in 2021. As a result, the Memphis native was left partially paralyzed. The life-altering tragedy took place just a week before Brown was to return for her junior year at Tennessee State University. Despite the challenges, she returned to study agricultural business this past fall with guidance from TSU’s Office of Disability Services (ODS).

Fast forward to a recent campus event that Brown says was a pivotal moment in her journey. The event was sponsored by ODS and featured motivational speaker Timothy Alexander.

“Where you come from doesn’t predict the person you will become,” Brown said with high emotions. “And after hearing his speech, I knew I wasn’t alone.”

Alexander and the TSU student share a similar story. Alexander had hopes of a career in the NFL, until a car accident initially left him paralyzed from the neck down at 17 years old. But he didn’t give up on himself. He emerged as a beacon of hope, becoming an inspirational speaker and author. He dedicated his life to inspiring others with his story of resilience and triumph over adversity.

“From adversity to achievement,” Alexander, a Birmingham Alabama native, shared his heartwarming story. Once ranked the #8 best high school football player in Alabama, he defied the odds.

“My education, my experience, my research put me in roles that I never thought I would be in,” Alexander said. “You don’t need it to be easy. You just need it to be possible.”

Alexander graduated from Wallace State Community College and went on to receive a master’s degree from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). In 2017, he stood up and walked independently at UAB for the first time since his paralysis in 2006.

“I was the first paraplegia in D1 history to ever receive a full ride for football and I never touched the field. I never made a play.”

The car wreck also caused a traumatic brain injury that demanded a journey of relearning how to walk and think.

“Never forget where you come from but be reminded of how far you’re going.”

Dozens of athletes in attendance resonated with Alexander’s story. Louise Ratiu, a TSU tennis player from Liege, Belgium, said she appreciated the underlying message of Alexander’s speech.

“I really liked the way he underlined that no matter how hard life gets, anything is possible if you are willing to do what is necessary to get there,” Ratiu said. “And I think it’s something really important mostly as athletes to keep fighting no matter how hard it gets.”

Dr. Anita McGaha, the director of the Office of Disability Services (ODS) said the office was proud to collaborate with the Academic Career Pathways and Partnerships office, directed by Dr. Antoinette Duke, to bring Alexander’s motivational narrative to TSU.

“His motivational narrative struck a chord with both our students and our staff on a profound level,” McGaha said.

“There are no limits to what a person can accomplish. Alexander reminded everyone in attendance that, ‘it’s not what you go through but what you grow through.’“

Alexander’s message served as a universal lesson for all TSU students, regardless of their abilities.

“It’s you, that can make a difference,” he said.

“If you want to measure what life is going to bring you, you’ve got to measure it by what you gave. Good measure.”

During his speech Alexander expressed his appreciation for his first visit to TSU and the university’s motto, ‘Think, Work, Serve,’ and how it resonates with his journey. As he concluded, he was extended an invitation to apply for a doctoral program by interim provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, Dr. Robbie Melton.

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