Crash survivor fights to finish education
A road smash nearly took Meg Theriault's life near Turangi two years ago and now it is threatening to derail her dream of graduating from Boston University.
The 23-year-old is facing a $100,000 bill to study until 2016 after fighting through serious brain injury rehabilitation.
Now she is on a mission to raise enough money to keep her goal in sight.
She was supposed to graduate in May last year, but the brain injury damaged her memory.
She's also easily distracted and likened her new state of mind to attention deficit disorder.
Talking on the phone from Boston University's management school, where she works part-time, Theriault said her capabilities remain intact.
"I can still understand what I used to but my memory is much worse, so when I get to do a problem I have to review what we studied before.
"I can do it so - it's just more time . . . Now I take an exam in a distraction-free area, not with the rest of the kids in the class."
Theriault enrolled part-time last autumn. The reduced workload means she's not eligible for many of the traditional forms of financial aid.
The resulting financial burden, a bill of $99,448, is an impossible one to carry.
Her family has also been deeply impacted financially since the crash that killed three of her fellow students while travelling to walk the Tongariro Crossing in May 2012.
Their funds were spent on travel to New Zealand at the time of the accident, lost income during Theriault's recovery, and ongoing recovery expenses.
They simply do not have the resources necessary to keep her enrolled.
The alternative is completing her study at a cheaper institution such as a community college.
Theriault remembers nothing of the car wreck that changed her life.
She remembers getting on the plane from Sydney, where she was studying abroad, then waking up in Boston.
New Zealand has been wiped from her mind, yet her parents, Deb and Todd, want to return.
Theriault also wants to personally thank Kevin and his daughter Michelle O'Brien who she says saved her life by calling in the rescue helicopter immediately.
What the experience has taught her is that not everything goes to plan.
"I was sort of a pessimist before, to be honest, and the accident and seeing the help I received . . . like my father said, it restored his faith in humanity - there are really good people out there.
"I thought I was independent and you had to earn everything and that was that. So, now, I've realised that there's serious resources and people out there who can help me."
Visit http://www.gofundme.com/HelpMegFinishCollege to help Theriault reach her goal.