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James Guinn, Jr.

Turning tragedy into triumph is no easy task but James Guinn proved that it is possible. He overcome a near-fatal accident and has put himself in position to graduate and advance to a four-year institution.Photo by Motlow College

Following his graduation from Shelbyville Central High School in 1992, James admits he was not very motivated to continue his education. However, as a minister in an area with a large immigrant population, he realized that he needed foreign-language skills in order to better communicate with those he ministered to.

"I was one of those people who couldn't wait to get out of high school," said James in a recent interview with members of Motlow's student success committee. "I procrastinated for a few years until I realized that I needed to learn Spanish in order to communicate better with those in the Spanish community in Bedford County. I came back to Motlow in 2000 and took Spanish and made an A, which sort of surprised me."

After taking a number of developmental classes in order to get himself ready for regular college classes, James began his first full college semester in Spring 2004. Two weeks after completing that first semester in May, his life took a drastic turn.

"I was on my way to have coffee with my mother and father and a 17-year old girl broadsided my car," he continued. "I was ejected through the floorboard of my vehicle, fracturing my skull and breaking multiple vertebrae in my back and neck. I was pronounced DOA on the scene before they realized I was still breathing."

James spent three months in a coma and nine total months in the hospital. Despite being told by doctors and experts that he would never walk again or function normally again, he has proven the experts wrong by not only walking, but also returning to school and continuing his education.

"I guess a little part of me wants to prove all of those people wrong," James added. "During the recovery from my accident I learned that I had made the honor roll at Motlow in that first semester, which really inspired me to work hard at getting better and get myself in position to return to Motlow."

Not only has James returned to the Moore County campus and had success in the classroom, he is scheduled to graduate in May of 2011 and plans to continue his studies at a four-year institution.

"I have three children and I want to set a good example for them," he concluded. "My daughter will be starting college in a few short years and I want to not only show her how important college is, but also be able to assist her financially. I know that getting an education is the best way for me to accomplish both of those goals."

"The only one who can stop you from doing what you want to do is you. Don't let anybody tell you that you can't reach your goals. I learned that first-hand because I had a lot of people telling me I would never live a normal life again - yet here I am."

View the video below to find out more about how James became a Motlow success story.