Student Success Story about Kimber Thurman
by Heike Kessler-Heiberg
In 2006, an undiagnosed heart issue, called patent ovale foramen, caused Kimber Thurman to suffer a stroke after surfacing from a scuba dive. Prior to this day, she was a single mom, a dive master, and an animal health care tech for Scripps Research. Kimber enrolled in the District’s Acquired Brain Injury Program at CE-Mesa in the Fall of 2011. At that time, she used a wheelchair and had difficulty sitting upright and maintaining an adequate speech volume. She was dealing with fatigue, bilateral weakness and spasticity, pain, headaches, double vision, memory problems, slowed processing, word finding difficulties, anxiety, and depression. Kimber, however, persisted coming to classes with the thought of learning strategies, improving her cognitive skills, building her physical stamina, and achieving a better understanding her medical and medication issues.
After several years of dealing with serious physical and medical issues, she was approved been by the Department of Rehabilitation in 2015 to enroll at Mira Costa College to pursue a degree in counseling. She had taken many classes at ABI, such as Study Skills, Memory Strategies, Expressive Writing, Public Speaking, Book Club, Cognitive-Communication, and Advocacy, among others, to help prepare her for this goal. She demonstrated good self-advocacy skills throughout her time at ABI and never hesitated to ask questions and ask for help and guidance. She was also involved with the San Diego Brain Injury Foundation and was the first recipient of the SDBIF scholarship award of $500. This scholarship is awarded to honor and encourage brain injury survivors to continue their education. It is designed to provide brain injury survivors assistance in continuing their educational progress and inspire them to reach for their dreams—and Kimber has dreams!
Kimber recently completed her first semester at Mira Costa. Specifically, she took Cultural Communication and Complex Thinking and Composition for 7 units, earning As in both.
For the Spring 2016 semester, she is carrying 13 units and is enrolled in Oceanography, Human Development, Group Communication and Statistics for Behavioral Sciences. Based on what she learned at ABI, she arranged many essential accommodations, including: a note taker, materials in alternate format, such as textbooks in digital form, preferential seating in the front of the class, extra time on tests in a quiet room, and tape-recording of lectures. She currently has classes Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Kimber now uses a walker, and due to her mobility issues, unless a class is in the same general area, she cannot take more than one class in a single morning or afternoon. She has arranged her schedule so she only takes one class on Tuesday/Thursday. She does have two classes on Wednesday but one ends by 10:20 am, which allows her to go home and return to campus for another class at 5:30 pm. In addition to this, she is also taking an on-line class.
Kimber’s goals are to transfer to a four-year university (she has already applied to SDSU and CSUSM for the fall 2016 semester) and eventually return to work in the social work or rehabilitation counseling field. She has chosen this type of profession because she truly wants to “give back to the community that I have been a part of.” Kimber says “I believe with all that I have experienced in my life, I can now really help people and show them that yes, it's hard, but I am proof that it can be done….life can go on and a person doesn't have to settle for what others think that they will be able to do. They can create goals and accomplish them.” All the teachers at Continuing Education’s ABI Program are so proud of our student, Kimber Thurman, and we’re happy to have been a part of her journey and her success.