One sunny Arizona day, Oliver Bryan was asked to participate in a flag ceremony at an Arizona Cardinals Monday Night football game, representing his 4-year service in the United States Navy. Oliver jumped on his motorcycle and headed to the game. Little did he know that his life would be changed forever that night.
Shortly after performing the flag ceremony, Oliver started to head home. Then, the unthinkable happened: he was in a horrific motorcycle accident and sustained a severe traumatic brain injury. The accident resulted in him being on life support for a week, then in a coma for a month. Upon coming out of his coma, he was faced with the daunting task of relearning everything — how to walk, talk, eat and complete daily tasks we take for granted. He spent three years going through intense rehab, a year of which he had the opportunity to attend the prestigious Center for Transitional Rehabilitation program (CTN) at Saint Joseph Hospital, where he received all of his medical care and has helped him thrive in his long road of recovery.
Even in his most trying times, Oliver still found opportunity in the most unusual places. He befriended another patient at CTN and in 2016 they opened a café, Oliver’s Sophisticated Bean (OSB) in downtown phoenix. After a year of overseeing OSB’s operations, Oliver decided to sell his portion of the café and further his education at Grand Canyon University.
He is studying business with an astonishing full 16-credit course load and is an honors student all the while. Being a returning student can be difficult, but dealing with a brain injury makes doing continual work an even bigger challenge. Yet, Oliver continues to thrive in his education, and he has recently been selected for a scholarship to attend the PCORI Annual Conference in Washington, D.C. to help present his role in developing and conducting a patient-centered traumatic brain injury study. He has also been actively involved in the Governor’s Council on Spinal and Head Injuries.
What’s the next step? Oliver says that he has a growing heart for the disability community, and he feels incredibly blessed for the opportunity to go back to school. He intends to go on to get a master’s in clinical mental health with a focus on counseling and a PhD in behavioral studies, with which he wants to help other brain injury survivors develop the skills to overcome their challenges as Oliver has.
Oliver clearly isn’t going to stop anytime soon, and we here at the Honors College cannot wait to see what he can accomplish.
To learn more about becoming a part of our motivated and ambitious community of honors students, visit our website or click the Request More Information button on this page.