STORY BY GABI GARCIA, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
PHOTOS BY JOCELYN PADILLA, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
Cypress College’s Disability Support Services program hosted Cypress College and California State University, Fullerton alumni Justin Joseph “JJ” Adkins for a student audience on Wednesday Oct. 18.
Adkins, the author of “Never Give Up: Life is too short to harbor regrets”, spoke to students and faculty about his journey as a student with a disability after suffering a traumatic brain injury at the age of 16.
Students and staff gathered at the Cypress College Complex at 2 p.m., settled into their seats while a presenter gave a small introduction about Adkins. He then took over and gave another short introduction and overview of his presentation through a communication device that reads what he types out loud. His wife, Brandy, mentioned that they don’t use the device often, “We have full conversations over the phone when I’m not home.”
He began with speaking about his childhood, sharing the struggles he and his family faced but how appreciative he is of his parents for fighting through their own personal struggles to give him a good life, “I had two parents who loved me very much.”
Afterwards he explained his teenage years, and then went into the injury that caused such a traumatic change in his life saying, “…this one foolish mistake changed my life”. He had a confrontation with someone a few years older than him at the time over his high school sweetheart, it ended up causing a small and slow brain bleed that if had been caught any later he wouldn’t have survived.
He also explained the difficulties he faced in therapy and rehabilitation, and how his mother fought long and hard for his recovery but Adkins explained he came to accept his disability early on. Then, he described that his determination was a driving force in his journey.
Adkins further explained the obstacles of his injury and how he was able to overcome them by keeping a positive outlook in life, and a strong support system that didn’t allow him to give up on himself. He kept his presentation lighthearted, cracking jokes about the “plethora of female admirers” that he had in his teenage years and giving the audience his best smiles.
He also mentioned how important it was for him when he began his higher education career to have a course where he could play on a team again that allowed him to feel joyous even under the circumstances of his condition. He even gained the nickname “The Tank”, which his wife still calls him to this day.
After his presentation he opened the floor to questions and made sure everyone got a well formed answer. He explained what getting his masters degree was like, the context behind his injury, as well as the obstacles he has faced with gaining a career in the degrees he worked so long and hard for.
Then, he further explained how difficult it was to be accepted into those careers because people lack patience with people who have disabilities but continued to encourage the audience that never giving up is what will help push them through those obstacles.
To learn more about Adkins and his story, you can purchase his book on Amazon and support his journey by leaving a review.
Purchase the book here: https://a.co/d/bpCl8vv