Tuesday, March 6th, 2018, was the day everything changed for Rutgers University junior Emily Graves. It was around 40 degrees and sunny, but with a slight, brisk breeze. The buses were packed in the midst of midterm season and the line at Starbucks was still out the door. Girls were walking around the College Avenue campus with their sorority jackets on, while athletes in their grey Rutgers track suits joked around. Graves crossed the street, just as she always did, to get to her Specialty Camera Studio class on Livingston campus.
“I was almost all the way across the street when the car hit me,” Graves recalls. Graves laid on the ground, stiff from all the pain, as she waited for an ambulance to arrive to bring her to Robert Wood Johnson hospital. A student named Eve waited by Graves’s side. She dialed Graves’s mom and told her nothing more than, “Emily got hit by a car.” Terrified and worried, Graves’s parents drove 45 minutes to meet her at the hospital.
An examination at RWJ revealed Graves had a broken humerus and clavicle. The doctors patched up her open wounds and told her that the rest would heal on its own. They sent her off with no pain medication for her broken bones, no home remedies to heal her scars— nothing.
Graves returned home in an immense amount of pain. “I spent four days not being able to stand up or sit down on my own,” she said. “Eventually I could not take it anymore so my parents took me to the Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania.” At CHOP, the doctors were in complete awe when they saw her condition.
There, the doctors discovered that she had a displaced fracture in her humerus and needed surgery. They also found that she had bruised her femur, damaged her MCL and LCL, and would need to be in a leg brace. She underwent surgery to fix her humerus and had a titanium plate and nine screws put into her permanently. She left the hospital in a sling, a leg brace, contact information for a physical therapist, and a completely new self-image and new insecurities that lasted longer than the injuries.
“The hardest part of this accident is the mental aspect,” Graves said. “PTSD from it does not really go away even after I have talked about it with therapists, doctors, family, and friends.” Graves had to deal with not only a new physical appearance, but also a new, damaged mental state. She felt sad, unmotivated, and worried she would not be able to finish the semester and get an internship. However, with the help of the understanding and flexible staff of the JMS program at Rutgers University, Graves was able to finish the semester and do exceptionally well.
She even landed an amazing internship with Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve. As an assistant, Graves acted as a jack of all trades- doing whatever the producers needed during the week following up to the live show.
“Throughout the week, I would be doing things ranging from sorting food orders for the celebrities coming, to making the posters that you would see on live TV that people hold outside. It does not sound very glamorous when I put it this way, but I swear I had such a blast doing it and being in that environment.”
Graves worked closely with the Talent team, where she spent most of her time at the Muse Hotel in New York City arranging things for visiting celebrities. She would set up production equipment, situate food, and helped with any tasks the Talent coordinators needed leading up to the day of the show.
The day of the live show, New Year’s Eve, was the most exciting part of Graves’s internship experience. She was in charge of making sure Colton Underwood, the Bachelor, made it everywhere on time. She also was in charge of Christina Aguilera’s entourage, running them between the hotel and the stage. Graves was behind the scenes for the most part and made sure everything was running smoothly.
“More than that I was able to be a small part of making sure one of the biggest productions of the year goes well,” Graves says. Emily Graves faced a traumatic experience but it did not stop her from following her dream of thriving in the journalism industry. She took a terrible, life- changing experience and overcame it by diving back into her studies at Rutgers University- and her life.