Social Work grad ‘relearns how to learn’ after traumatic brain injury

Fall 2017 outstanding social work grad Larissa Stone joined the U.S. Army in 2002, and after six years and two combat tours, she started college in in 2007. Stone, who is from Noble, Oklahoma, was attending college in Oklahoma when she was involved in a severe car accident causing a traumatic brain injury and other internal injuries.

Overcoming TBI

The combination of her brain injury and the psychological trauma she experienced in the military took a toll on her health and well-being. Nevertheless, with the help of others and a deep personal drive, she was able to persevere. In 2016, she came to Colorado State University to finish her bachelor’s degree.

Stone connected with multiple organizations around the CSU campus including Resources for Disabled Students, New Start for Veterans, and the CSU Health Network to help her navigate the difficulties that had arisen after her injury. “I had to relearn how to learn, and find new ways to cope with the stress of academia,” explained Stone. Through her involvement, she mastered many new tactics for studying and processing her class material.

Stone credits her social work professors for their help. “The professors within the School of Social Work gave me great support, both as a student and as a person,” she said. “Because I am an older, non-traditional student, my professors supported me in being a leader to my peers. This gave me a lot of confidence after feeling that I had lost some of my academic edge from the brain injury.”

Larissa Stone
This photo was taken on a CSU student-veteran horse-packing trip that Stone participated in. The group worked on teambuilding, leadership skills, and understanding student-veteran experiences while spending five days in the Red Feather Lakes area. “Being on a horse was the first time since my brain injury that I let go of being in total control of my physical safety,” said Stone. “I was encouraged and supported the whole trip and came away feeling more confident in getting back to an active lifestyle.”

Stone became a student-veteran peer adviser, and during Ram-Welcome, she gave campus tours to incoming student-veterans and helped connect them to CSU’s many resources. Stone’s activities also included participation in many Dialogues Around Differences lectures, attending a women’s student-veteran on-campus yoga group, and sharing her story as a woman veteran during Diversity Week.

While at CSU, Stone was named a Reisher Scholar and was awarded a scholarship for demonstrated academic and leadership potential. “Being named a Reisher Scholar gave me many wonderful opportunities to meet a variety of students who have overcome adversity, yet still strive for excellence in all areas of life,” she said.

During her time at CSU, Stone has been providing care for her father. She is also an artist, and last year she had an art show in Old Town in which she donated the proceeds of the art she sold to medical care for a friend who was hospitalized.

‘Helping others reach their full potential’

After graduation, Stone will celebrate her graduation and embark on her career in social work. “Professionally, I hope to find employment that will allow me to integrate my love of art and nature with helping others realize, and reach, their full potential,” she said. “The populations I would like to work with are youth, low-income families, and individuals experiencing homelessness.”

When asked what she would miss the most about CSU, Stone said, “I will miss the diverse community of caring students that I have shared the classroom with. The individuals within the School of Social Work are some of the most passionate, sincere, and heart-felt people I have ever met.”

The School of Social Work is part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.