NATCHITOCHES – It’s doubtful anyone was looking forward to the fall semester at Northwestern State University more than Lauren Edwards.
The sophomore nursing major from Shreveport was scheduled to begin classes on Northwestern State’s Natchitoches campus last fall. Days before she was to move into a campus residence hall, Edwards was involved in a traffic accident on La. Highway 1 near Shreveport. She had to be extricated from her car and had serious injuries that required months of rehabilitation.
“I don’t remember much about that day,” said Edwards, a 2015 graduate of Byrd High School. “ I don’t remember getting ready or leaving the house. All I remember is my dog Cricket playing with a bunch of socks like they were a toy.”
In the accident, Edwards suffered a traumatic brain injury, broke her left femur, had a skull fracture of the left side and broke her nose, cheek and jaw in three places. She recalls waking up in physical therapy later, but admits the next six weeks are not clear to her. Edwards spent three months in rehabilitation hospitals, the last seven weeks at two facilities in Houston. She was able to take two classes on NSU’s Shreveport campus last spring. Edwards has largely recovered but still has some pain and occasionally may have trouble remembering or thinking of a specific word but she was determined to be at Northwestern State for the start of fall classes.
“I was a little nervous because I didn’t really know anyone on campus,” she said. “But I am also excited and ready to learn. I really wanted to get the full college experience in Natchitoches before starting clinicals.”
Edwards is philosophical about her accident taking a long-term view of the events.
“Maybe this was God’s plan for me,” said Edwards. “Perhaps this will allow me to better understand what the patient goes through and will make me a better nurse.”
Edwards career plan began to take shape during her junior year in high school.
“I love taking care of people,” she said. “I want to be a trauma nurse. That field seems like a calling to me. I would have a chance to help patients who could be going through what I was.”
Edwards admits going through a life-threatening event has changed her.
“I know how things can change in an instant,” said Edwards. “I don’t take things for granted. I have a grateful heart knowing I have the opportunity to pursue my career dream.”
Edwards hopes to enter clinicals next fall and graduate in 2019. Despite the accident, she plans to graduate on her original schedule. While at Byrd, Edwards gained 30 hours of credit at NSU through the dual enrollment program that allows high school students to take college classes during the school day.