It’s hard to imagine that less than a year ago, there was a good chance that Christine Armas wasn’t going to walk across the stage on her own high school graduation day. In fact, there was a good chance she wouldn’t walk anywhere on her own again.
At first glance, you wouldn’t know that the young, vibrant, now-healthy senior at Corner Canyon High was in a horrific car crash last July that left her with major injuries to her elbow, wrist, ankle and foot. Fallout from the accident uprooted her from her home and interrupted her education. But now, as Christine readies to don her cap and gown and walk across that graduation stage on her own two feet, her scars serve as a reminder of the power of a positive determination to never give up.
“I decided to just keep pushing on just try,” Christine says of her challenges in life. “I know it’s not going to help anything if I say, ‘Why me?’ “
On July 7, 2013, Christine was in a suburban with some of her cousins driving through Nevada on her way home to Fresno, Calif., when the driver became distracted and started to drift into a different lane. When the driver realized what was happening, she overcorrected the SUV, swerving back and forth and ultimately causing the hulking vehicle to roll five times.
One of Christine’s cousins was ejected from the vehicle, another fractured five vertebrae, another received enough trauma to the head to cause brain damage. Christine fractured her elbow and wrist, and tore the muscles in her foot all the way from her ankle to her toes.
The injury to her foot was so severe that the first doctors she saw at the nearest hospital in Nevada recommended she have it amputated. Instead, Christine was taken by medical helicopter to Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake for further treatment. Her foot was saved, but that was only the beginning of Christine’s challenges.
She started physical therapy and endured doctor appointments almost every day. In order to get the treatment she needed, Christine left her family in Fresno and moved in with her extended family in Draper, transferring to Corner Canyon just before her senior year began. She was a stranger, starting over, with frequent interruptions to her time and physical limitations that hindered her social life, but Christine worked hard to keep up with her studies to be able to graduate on time. She completed her physical therapy sessions only a week ago.
Now, she plans to graduate and attend Utah Valley University in the fall to study human development. Her positive attitude and determination to succeed are inspiring to everyone around her, says Corner Canyon Principal Mary Bailey.
“Sometimes we see kids get caught up in why they can’t do something,” Bailey said. “Christine is an example of saying, ‘It doesn’t matter what my situation is, I’m going to go for it.’ And that is what every day life is like. … Most of us will not be spectacular heroes, but we can all be example to others at not ever giving up and being true to ourselves.”