After a traumatic brain injury, Sarah Barker went to college.

arah Barker is finally able to write the last chapter of her memoir.

In 1996,  a month before her 18th birthday, Barker was in a car crash that left her with a traumatic brain injury. After being hospitalized for 311 days — and spending three months in a coma — and undergoing intensive rehab, she was ready to continue her education.

One class at a time.

More than 20 years later, on Dec. 14, Barker graduated from St. Ambrose University with a bachelor’s degree in English.

And with that, she lived through what she had previously plotted as the last chapter of her educational memoir, 23 years in the making.

“It’s been kind of a whirlwind,” Barker said in her parents’ home Friday. She lives about a mile away.

While Barker said she’s always had a knack for writing, U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill. helped develop her passion, back when Bustos was a health reporter for the Quad-City Times. Bustos interviewed Barker for a story about brain injuries.

“She said, next year, you’re going to write this with me,” her mom, Janet Barker, said.

Since then, Barker has written for the Times and for a brain injury newsletter, all the while picking away at her memoir, which starts the month before her brain injury in 1996.

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