Medical Miracle Allows Woman To Walk At College Graduation

59 year old Pearl McKnight was left partially paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair after contracting Cryptococcal Meningitis in 2010. She was told she would never walk again. As she contemplated what the rest of her life would be like, she then decided to go back to school to get a Masters and a PHD.

Several year later she was told there was a small chance to regain movement with a surgery. She went in for the procedure in 2017. She was told it was successful but now she had to do the hard physical work in therapy a long with diet and exercise. Pearl says "I eventually came off of 14 daily medications, and I started walking. For me to have a total body transformation, it was a medical miracle.”

All that hard work and determination will culminate in McKnight being able to walk across the stage when she receives her doctoral degree in educational leadership from Tennessee State University (TSU) tomorrow (12/09/23)

"God has me here for a reason. I got my masters in a wheelchair so I figured that was going to be what a degree would be like for the rest of my life. So, it means so much to me to be able to walk across the stage.”

McKnight's college experience has taught her a lot about navigating the educational system as a student with a disability. She says, “the playing field is not level for disabled students,” and plans to get a job at a university where she can help ensure opportunities for other disabled students.

Her husband of 42 years, Kenneth says this procedure and life change has meant so much. “It was a wonderful feeling because we never thought she was going to be able to walk again. When she did, it was a miracle".

“She has been an example to me and many others,” said Kenneth. “I know she is going to do great things and be a success.”

He’s played a crucial role in her academic career, driving her to school and waiting during her classes. Dr. Anita McGaha, Director of the Office of Disability Services at TSU, also recognizes McKnight's inspiring journey, saying her relentless commitment to academic achievement despite significant challenges is a strong source of motivation for other students facing adversities.

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