Find Where You're Going
by Conor Bentley (MEd. ’08)
While most of us are dealing with how to confront the unplanned crisis of the coronavirus pandemic, Jamie Crane-Mauzy (’19) is no stranger to life-changing events. Jamie was a competitive skier whose career was on an uphill climb, and, after competing in the X Games, she had her sights set on the Olympics. Her plans abruptly changed in April 2015 when she was at the world slope-style and half pipe skiing event in Whistler, Canada. Jamie threw a Double Flat 7 in her second run of the day to try and get on the podium, but when she landed she caught an edge, fell, and hit her head on the hard-packed snow. It was a devastating fall that left her brain bleeding in eight spots and paralyzed on her right side. She was in a coma for 10 days before she was moved from a hospital in Vancouver to IHC in Murray, Utah.
There were fears that even if she lived, she might not be able to walk again. It was a long road for Jamie, and once she was out of the woods she had to rebuild her brain and body. It was amazing for Jamie and her doctors to see that even after a severe brain injury like hers, synaptic connections could be remade and pathways reopened. With the help of her mother and her older sister—who became her primary physician—she learned to read, write, and walk again. With her ski career jeopardized, Jamie had to find a new focus and purpose for her life.
After rehabilitating her body and brain—11 months after her injury—Jamie went to Salt Lake City for a Bernie Sanders rally where she met a group of Westminster College students. Jamie’s mom wanted her to go back to college when she was ready, and after chatting with the Westminster kids, she decided to take a tour of campus. Westminster’s small class sizes were attractive to Jamie and her mom because of the personal attention she would get as a non-traditional student recovering from such a horrific injury.
Jamie started slow, taking two classes in the summer and then, after liking them so much, she came back in the fall. “I always thought I’d go back to skiing,” says Jamie, but she stayed at Westminster through the spring when the danger of skiing competitively was too much. She felt there was nothing she wanted to do after not being able to ski anymore. Jamie felt lost and struggled emotionally early in her time at Westminster. “I felt old and washed up at 24 years old,” she says.
A chat with communication professor Kim Zarkin helped Jamie in her comeback. After talking it out with Kim, she accepted that it was a tough time, and it was okay to feel overwhelmed and lost, but college could help her find new goals and a renewed purpose. “You have to start walking, even if you don’t know where you’re going,” Jamie says of her new path.
After her fall, Jamie avoided talking about it for a long time, but during the course of her time at Westminster, she found strength in telling her story, and decided that she wanted to be a public speaker to help others overcome their own obstacles and trauma. She has now spoken at over 30 events, inspiring others to have a growth mindset in spite of unforeseen circumstances. In addition to her public speaking, Jamie is working on a documentary of her incredible story. Jamie sees that her story of resilience is one that is particularly relevant in the current climate of the COVID-19 crisis. She wants to help people understand that no setback is permanent. “When things happen, it affects you, and whether it’s big or small you can create more opportunities in life that are more powerful than what you had before.”
To find out more about Jamie’s speaking engagements visit her website: jamiemocrazy.com
About the Westminster Review
The Westminster Review is Westminster College’s bi-annual alumni magazine that is distributed to alumni and community members. Each issue aims to keep alumni updated on campus current events and highlights the accomplishments of current students, professors, and Westminster alum.