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OT grad overcomes odds, has eye on
Obtaining an advanced degree in two years while vying for a spot on the
U.S. Olympic team is not for the faint-hearted. But Sarah Casteel is no
ordinary student or athlete. A paraplegic since 18 following a
collision with a drunk driver, which also killed her younger brother,
Casteel has developed the steely determination and focus that typify
qualities of top athletes and the best students.
On May 16, Casteel graduates from the College of Health Professions as
an occupational therapist from one of the nation’s top allied health
programs. She managed to earn her degree with a 3.7 grade point average
while competing nationally in wheelchair tennis tournaments.
“Continuing tennis competition and going to school was difficult, and
both my education and tennis suffered,” Casteel said. “But I am glad I
did it, and the professors were good about letting me go to tournaments
and make up classes.”
Casteel also had to recover from a setback during her first year at
MUSC. Doctors operated to remove screws and plates implanted in her
spine after the automobile wreck. Tennis took a backseat, but she
quickly returned to training and competing in national events.
Currently ranked fifth in the nation, Casteel is hoping to improve her
ranking by at least one spot after this month’s Atlanta Open, the last
event of the year that will help determine who will represent the
United States this summer.
“The rankings are based on a point system,” said the nation’s former
number one player. If she succeeds in this international event, Casteel
should be assured a position among the top four.
While making it to Beijing is her top priority now, Casteel also looks
forward to settling into an OT job near her family in Greenville. “I’m
not sure what field I want to work in, but I just want to go for a job
that sounds interesting,” said the Stephens College, Mo., alumnus who
originally wanted to study fashion design.
Friday, May 16, 2008
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