Click for our latest updates on COVID-19

Main Content

Craig inpatients celebrate 2020 high school graduation with special ceremony

July 13, 2020

Like many other graduation ceremonies across the country this summer, the annual Craig Hospital School Program graduation ceremony looked a little bit different this year.

This spring, two inpatients spent their final months of high school at Craig Hospital, working with Craig School Program teachers Laura Magnuson and Cory Wendling to keep up with their classes and graduate with their peers, all while rehabilitating from catastrophic injuries and maintaining their busy therapy schedules.

Analesa Maldonado

In April, Analesa came to Craig for spinal cord injury rehabilitation in the middle of a particularly demanding high school program; while completing her high school degree at Atrisco Heritage Academy High School in Albuquerque, New Mexico, she was also finishing up a concurrent nursing program that would prepare her to earn her LPN certificate shortly after her high school graduation.

“It was really hard to have my school year interrupted because I was doing high school and nursing school at the same time. School was really important to me and I put a lot of time into that. When I got injured, it was just very overwhelming. I didn’t feel like I would be capable of focusing,” Analesa says. “But coming here, Laura helped me build a timeline and did the heavy lifting to put all that in order for me. I just had to come in and do the work. It made it easier to focus on my recovery and injury and still be able to finish school without it being such a big stressor.”

Analesa’s mother worked in the medical field and inspired her to want to become a nurse and spend her time treating patients holistically. After her experience at Craig, that hasn’t changed for her but rather has only inspired her more.

“Here at Craig, the nurses take time out of their day just to come help you get some extra time with practicing your daily skills. Everyone is just so willing to help here at Craig. It’s inspiring and I feel I have to continue that somehow,” Analesa says.

Now back in New Mexico, Analesa is planning to enroll in college in the fall and stay on track to become an RN.

Kamrin Palmer

Kamrin came to Craig in April for spinal cord injury rehabilitation and was in his last semester of high school in Las Cruces, New Mexico, when he was injured. He came to Craig during a time when COVID-19 restrictions were being rolled out in hospitals across the country.

“It's been great at Craig, even having the restrictions because of COVID; there are a lot of other young teens and adults that made it way more enjoyable. The staff are amazing, and you can just tell how much they love their job and seeing you do better,” Kamrin says. “The teachers at Craig helped me earn school credits at an accelerated rate. Without them, I probably wouldn't have graduated and instead would have gone the GED route, but they inspired me not to.”

In June, both Kamrin and Analesa participated in a socially-distanced high school graduation at Craig, complete with caps, gowns, and plenty of “Pomp and Circumstance” to celebrate their hard work and have an opportunity to be recognized by their Craig teams for their accomplishments during a difficult time in their lives.

“It felt great to graduate on time. I was not expecting to graduate with my class after my injury. I wish I could've walked the stage or at least rolled on the stage just so I could show everyone that I did it, but Craig did a great job hosting a graduation for us,” Kamrin says.

Today, Kamrin is planning to apply to attend the University of New Mexico to start on his undergraduate and pre-med school path while working on becoming more independent.

The Craig team is honored to have helped these students continue their education during a difficult part of their lives and offer their congratulations to Analesa and Kamrin and the many other Craig grads who graduated from high school and college this summer!

The Craig Hospital School Program is made possible by our generous Craig Hospital Foundation donors. Learn how you can support this program here.