Georgia Wilson had to learn to walk again. On Friday, she graduates
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Georgia Wilson had to learn to walk again. On Friday, she graduates

When Georgia Wilson joins graduands on Friday at the Australian National University, she will walk across the stage to receive her master's degree in museum and heritage studies.

But, unlike most people who will be awarded degrees at the ceremony, Ms Wilson had to learn to walk again first.

Australian National University graduand Georgia Wilson, pictured at the university on Thursday, had to learn how to walk again after a brain injury in May.

Australian National University graduand Georgia Wilson, pictured at the university on Thursday, had to learn how to walk again after a brain injury in May.Credit:Sitthixay Ditthavong

When Ms Wilson felt unwell in May, she put it down to tiredness. A natural procrastinator, Ms Wilson blamed late nights spent working on essays when she felt tired and dizzy each morning.

Soon, though, Ms Wilson was admitted to hospital, where it was revealed brain inflammation was causing signals from her brain not to communicate properly with her legs. She was unable to walk.

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An uncertain prognosis left the 26-year-old unsure of whether she would walk again - and whether she would finish her degree.

"It was horrendous," Ms Wilson said.

"I was completely reliant on other people, and on top of that I was just terrified because I just didn't know how much I would recover."

It was four months before she returned to university.

Ms Wilson praised her parents, who are nurses, her boyfriend, Lachlan, and her friends for encouraging her to keep working at rehabilitation and stay active during her recovery.

"The last thing you want to do [is rehab], because you're exhausted and terrified," she said.

But those around her ensured she stuck at it, and eventually she was able to regain most of what she had lost.

Ms Wilson, who enjoyed all the time she was able to spend at university, encouraged others to keep working at their studies.

"I think most students have a lot of doubt about whether or not they are capable of completing their degree," she said.

"I had a lot of self doubt and then when my brain wasn't working properly that was intensified because I thought I didn't deserve to go back to uni because I wouldn't be able to cope or I wasn't smart enough..

"It was hard for me to get the courage to come back to a place that is highly stressful."

But Ms Wilson, who joins 3734 students graduating at the university this week, did get the courage. She hoped in the future that she would work on projects that look at how cultural heritage was managed in conflict zones.

"Even if I don't recover 100 per cent, I've made it this far. My everyday life is normal," she said.

Jasper is a reporter for The Canberra Times.

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