A law student and a single mom by choice, Jen Goodwin is the rolling definition of a tough cookie. With the two aforementioned titles realized post spinal cord injury, she’s been determined to beat everyone’s expectations. She wasn’t about to let her life dreams fall by the wayside after becoming paralyzed.
But there’s no denying her injury altered her life plans. As a former pharmaceutical sales rep with a brand new house, everything was falling into place when her injury occurred. Read on to see exactly how Jen moved on after becoming a quadriplegic and has set-out to change the world.
Why she’s fearless
Raised in a competitive household where she and her brother competed over everything, Jen is one of those people who’s always challenged herself. She was a busy career woman in her twenties flying all around the world as a pharmaceutical sales representative, and at the age of 23 she scored the job of her dreams, allowing her to stop traveling as much and buy a home in her hometown.
But in 2008 shortly after buying her home, Jen became a C5-6 quadriplegic. While on a late night boat ride, her neighbor fell on her breaking her neck. A traumatic experience, Jen has been determined not to let her injury woefully affect her life. Fortunately, she’s blessed by the unwavering support of family and friends who’ve rallied around her.
After returning home from rehab, Jen began to see many injustices negatively impacting persons with disabilities in her community. Jen decided to take matters into her own hands and after receiving inadequate services from a lawyer in her hometown she decided to make legal changes herself. She enrolled in law school at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, William H. Bowen School of Law in 2013 five years after her accident.
But she didn’t stop there. In her second year of law school at 32 years old, Jen began to experience full-on “baby rabies.” After weighing her choices (she wasn’t eligible to adopt from China), she decided to pursue artificial insemination through donor sperm. “I wasn’t getting any younger,” she says, fully aware of the risks older moms face because of her mother, an OBGYN nurse. After her second try, Jen became pregnant and was soon told she was having a son. Finally in 2015, Jen’s son Beckham was born. She pushed him out in 3 pushes and he came 6 weeks early.
To make solo parenting easier, Jen also moved in next to her parents and made the home next door accessible (a great idea for those who want to be near family but still want their own privacy). When raising a child as a quadriplegic, it definitely takes a village. Jen’s family has been absolutely model-worthy.
Since her injury she’s also been dabbling in modeling. A Permobil chair-user, the company used her in one of their recent campaigns showing her great fashion sense. Jen has also become very active in the disability advocacy community. Last June, she was invited to United Spinal’s Roll on Capitol Hill; an annual gathering of people with spinal cord injuries trying to make their state senators more aware of issues important to Persons with Disabilities.
What we love most about Jen however is her unforgettable confidence, which is plain to see in a recent video from Saline Memorial Hospital, sharing why she decided to become a mom and no longer wait for Mr. Right to come around. She is the epitome of going out there and getting what you want. YOU GO GIRL!
Community question: What dreams or life goals have you pursued since your injury to prove what’s possible?