Subscribe to my FREE newsletter
Be the first to know about new articles!
blog hero image (1)

Brain injury blog by survivor

Brain injury blog by survivor



Subscribe to my FREE newsletter
Be the first to know about new articles!
blog hero image (1)

Brain injury blog by survivor

Brain injury blog by survivor



Guest post: Brandon Leuangpaseuth, tips to graduate with a brain injury.

Follow me:

I would like to introduce you to Brandon, who wants to share with you how he managed to graduate from college even with a severe brain injury, and his tips on how you can too. Brandon Leuangpaseuth is a writer from San Diego, CA that helps various law firms such as McGilberry & Shirer LLP across the country with their public relations. You can connect with him on LinkedIn @ bleuangpaseuth.

Brandon graduating from college
Graduating as his brothers join him for the ceremony

In 2015, I got hit by a car while I was pushing my broken down vehicle on the freeway. Apparently, I flew 20 feet in the air. I was hospitalized for a month, was in a coma for two weeks, and was in an intensive rehab center for another month– I had received a serious traumatic brain injury. To this day, I can still remember sitting in the rehab center like it was yesterday. Sitting there in my rehab center bed feeling really depressed… I was only 20 years old… and I could not remember what I did the day before.

It felt like I had thrown away the rest of my life. Prior to the accident, I was attending San Diego State University and I was taking my first semester of upper-division classes. How was I going to finish school? What would my classmates think of me? How was I supposed to find a job after? Thoughts raced through my head as I focused my attention on the worst case scenario… dropping out. I was supposed to be the first person in my family to graduate from college. Instead I felt like I was going to let everyone down…

Fast forward a couple years later, and now, I am officially graduated 🙂

It was a tough journey but I want to help other young traumatic brain injury survivors push through and still graduate from college. I received a ton of help from people around me, and I want to pay it forward. Here are my helpful tips to help you graduate from college if you have a traumatic brain injury.

Tip #1: Use the resources available to you

My college has a “Student Disability Services” that offers free tutoring, testing accommodations, note takers and other free resources like a audio recorder for me to use. The first few weeks when I returned to school, I refused to use my resources because I was embarrassed of my disability. After failing my first test, I decided to put my pride away and get some help. My University’s disability services provided me with all the necessary resources that I took advantage of to pass my classes.

I would check to see if your University has any disability services available to you. You have to provide medical documentation of your injury and then they help give you the necessary accommodations.

Also I would highly recommend getting registered with the Department Of Rehab. This is a government program to help people with disabilities receive jobs. They will pay for your schooling, and provide you all the necessary resources to help you get the necessary education for the job you want. This is an extremely useful resource you need to take advantage of.

Tip #2: Use this memory trick

After receiving my traumatic brain injury, I became quite fascinated with memory. Why was it that I was able to remember certain things and completely forget other things? I started to pick up memory books to learn how to improve my memory. One of the books is Made To Stick by Chip and Dan Heath. It is a book dedicated to answering what makes ideas “stick” or be remembered. The Heath brothers wrote that there is a ton of backed research behind using associations to help you remember things.

Try to use associations when you learn new material. For example: Instead of saying there is a central object which is orbited by other objects when you are explaining atoms, you can just say atoms are like tiny solar systems. It makes it easier to remember.Similes and analogies are extremely useful to learn new material because it causes you to create associations with something new to something you already know.I would recommend giving Made to Stick a read. I learned a lot from it.

Tip #3: Take care of yourself

A healthier body and mind will undoubtedly improve your memory and school work. Hit your school gym, eat clean food, be in bed early, and take care of yourself! You might be pleasantly surprised at how great you feel. I personally would become exceptionally exhausted after taking a class. My brain injury really messed with my energy levels and my TBI made me mentally exhausted after every class. So, after every class, I would run to the library for a quick nap before my next class started. This might be helpful if you have energy issues from your TBI as well.

Also, after my accident, I took a year off from any alcohol or stimulants that could inhibit my brain’s recovery. (On my 21st birthday, I flew out to Las Vegas to watch all my friends get drunk and have a good time. That was tough!). It is up to your discretion on if you want to drink or not. If you do, all I ask is you do it in moderation. Avoid staying up late watching Netflix or just aimlessly browsing the internet. Take care of yourself! You will feel better. I promise.

Believe in yourself

I get it. It can be frustrating… Before the accident, I used to be able to not buy any textbooks, just sit in class, pay attention and do well on my tests. After the accident, it is a struggle for me to remember what I did last week or the day before. Believe me. I know it sucks. But stick with it. If you stay positive, keep with it and heed my advice, I am certain you will graduate from college. I am absolutely sure of it. Brandon.



5 replies on “Guest post: Brandon Leuangpaseuth, tips to graduate with a brain injury.”

First, Congrats Brandon!! Thank you for sharing your tips. I am a severe traumatic brain injury survivor, who 13 years after my injury returned to college. I graduated in 2014 with diplomas in Drug & Alcohol and Social Work. I have one more semester and, at the age of 63, will graduate with a Psychology Degree. Over the years Brandon, I came up with the tips you listed. The only thing I would add besides make full use of your school’s Supportive Services Department. They will do the best they can to help you be successful. The only thing I would add is that I contact every one of my professors/teachers at the beginning of the semester and introduce myself and make an appointment to meet with them one on one. They all receive a Disability Accommodations letter listing the things Brandon mentioned, i.e. digital recorder, double time for tests etc., however, that doesn’t give my instructors a clue as to what I need to be successful in their class. I explain that I had a STBI and let them know I have very little short-term memory, my need for repetition to make the information “stick” in my brain. I also warn them that I ask a lot of questions because I need detailed clarification on most things. I tell them if they give general instructions on an assignment, most of the class will get it, and it will go right over my head. I learned to do this after I did a number of essays, papers, projects that were totally wrong because I perceived the assignment incorrectly. If I get an assignment now, I go to the teacher and say, “So you want me to………, am I correct?” The majority of my professors have been great and willing to work with me. My algebra professor was awesome, I had such a hard time–haven’t done algebra in 45 years. Professor Kane made it her mission to have me pass. She tutored me daily after class and allowed me to use a sheet with the algebraic formulas on it when I took my exams because there were so many that I confused them if I went from memory. She also allowed me to have unlimited time for exams. I fought for that one and asked, “Do you want to know if I can do the work or how fast I can do it?’ She relented and I passed every exam after that. You can do it too, be your own advocate.

This is awesome! Congrats Brandon!! I’m also a TBI survivor. I’m hoping to go back and finish my master’s in the fall, so I can greatly appreciate the advice you gave! I never had to buy textbooks before this happened either, but I’m trying to set myself up for every success possible.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Blog newsletter

Get an email which gives you an introduction into the topic of the latest post so you never miss one again. If you ever change your mind and decide you no longer want to receive these emails there will be an unsubscribe link included at the bottom of every one, so you have nothing to lose!