MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — It has been six years since Kearria Freed was shot in the head during a party in Panama City Beach. And now, she is getting ready to walk across the stage to get her diploma.
“What happened to me was bad, and I turned it into something good,” said Freed.
In those six years, Freed has accomplished a lot. “I feel extremely blessed and I’m grateful, I know that I have a purpose so I’m using my story to motivate and inspire others,” she said.
On March 28, 2015, Freed went to her first spring break party in Panama City Beach. She was then a 20-year-old student at Alabama A&M. While there, David JaMichael Daniels opened fire, hitting her in the head.
Freed survived, but now has Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), as well as other serious injuries.
She had to take a two year break from school to re-learn everything.
“I couldn’t talk for 5 months and I couldn’t walk for 2 years. And just learning life’s daily tasks again, it was very difficult,” Freed said.
When she was ready, she went back to school, getting an associate degree first from Bishop State.
Now, she is getting ready to graduate from the University of South Alabama with her bachelor’s degree.
“Everything happens for a reason. This has only made me better. I’m a better person than I was six years ago, this journey has actually been a blessing to me,” Freed said.
During her time at South, she’s excelled. She won an award for outstanding student of the integrated studies department and is part of two honors societies.
“I made the best of my experiences. My professors, made me and Darling [her service dog] feel welcome and accommodated us. I felt included throughout all of my activities,” Freed said.
Freed graduates in July, four years after she was initially supposed to graduate from Alabama A&M.
“I would say that I take things slow, I take it day by day. It’s still a challenge even though I have overcome as much as I have. But I just look at the positive and continue to be determined and keep going,” Freed said.
She is now helping other young adults who have survived traumatic brain injuries, with her non-profit: Kearria Kares Foundation.
“To show other disabled individuals that you can do it too. Anyone, no matter the amount of adversity you face, can be overcome. You just have to be determined and consistent,” said Freed.
Freed is also now looking forward to what’s next, she plans to get her master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling.