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A Student’s Journey from Injury to Passion: Grafton Craighead

Meet Grafton Craighead. Growing up, she was no stranger to Baylor University. Baylor is a family tradition for Grafton; both of her parents attended Baylor, and her older brother graduated from Baylor this past year. Both Grafton and her identical twin sister are undergraduate students at Baylor, planning to graduate in 2025. Originally from Jefferson City Missouri, Grafton is a legacy scholarship recipient and a Health Science Studies Major on the Pre-Physician Assistant track with a biology minor.


Grafton stays busy outside of classes, too. She serves as a special needs buddy volunteer at Highland Baptist Church in Waco and as a connection group leader. She is an active member of the Chi Omega sorority at Baylor and enjoys sports, reading, and going to Lake Waco with friends.


Baylor has always been home for Grafton, even before she stepped foot on campus as a student. Both of Grafton’s parents attended Baylor University and her older brother just graduated this past year. “I would say growing up I always knew I wanted to come to Baylor,” Grafton said. “While I had the goal of coming here since a very young age, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to major in.”


Grafton’s journey to finding her Baylor major wasn’t a straight line. She didn’t know what she wanted to study but was always inspired by her dad, an orthopedic surgeon. As a high school senior, she still didn’t know what she wanted to study. That all changed when Grafton tore her ACL playing basketball and had to undergo surgery.


“This ultimately led me to where I am today,” Grafton said. “I was devastated by this injury because my senior year of varsity sports was ripped away, and I knew this injury’s recovery period would take me into my freshman year of college and limit me there.


She had two options: She could either quit sports and opt for surgery, or she could take a risk and try to rehab her knee without an ACL. This was not an easy decision for someone who played golf, basketball, and soccer. Playing these sports without an ACL is almost unheard of; few people can handle adjusting to sports without an ACL. She decided to take a risk. After much prayer and reflection, Grafton decided not to have surgery but instead went through physical therapy.


“This was the toughest journey of my life and I have never worked harder mentally or physically. I had so many people, including my physical therapist, tell me it could not be done, by the grace of God, I was able to play my sports my senior year.” Grafton says.


During the recovery process, Grafton spent over a year in physical therapy, where she interacted with numerous therapists, doctors, and PAs. This experience inspired her to want to become a PA. Grafton believes that Baylor University is setting her up to pursue her passion because of the professors who want to see her succeed.


“Some of the classes I have been required to take have pushed me out of my comfort zone and I have grown tremendously,” Grafton says. “I have learned skills in my lab classes that I will carry with me in my carry with me in my career. I have a community of peers that supports and loves me, and I know that these friends will be with me for a lifetime.”

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