Grad Story 2019: Sarah Barker, Two Decades to Graduation


One month before her 18th birthday, Sarah Barker was in a traffic accident and suffered a traumatic brain injury. She was in a coma for three months, followed by nine months of intensive rehab.

After spending a year in the hospital she came home and announced nothing would stop her from earning a college degree. "I have way too much life left to sit back and not do anything," Sarah recalls. "I am going to do this. It may take a little longer, but I am going to do this."

The Accessibility Resource Center at St. Ambrose worked with Sarah to create a path forward to her degree. Now, 21 years later, we applaud her victory. Sarah graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English on Dec. 14, 2019.

"I've seen her get stronger and strong in her determination," said Ryan Saddler, Associate Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. 

Learn more about Sarah's story. Watch this video

Sarah is tai chi class

"I'm Going To Do This."

Despite ongoing mobility and memory issues related to the accident, Sarah saved her most challenging course for her last; a 1-credit Tai Chi course that fulfilled an important SAU general education requirement.

You Might Also Be Interested In...

News and Events

Share This Story

AmbroseZine | News

Self-submitted accomplishments by our teaching faculty from the past semester.

Read More

AmbroseZine | News

The St. Ambrose University Business and Healthcare Sales Program has been elevated to full membership in the University Sales Center Alliance (USCA), joining 55 other college and university programs in the U.S. and an additional three in Europe.

Read More


At SAU, hard work = recognition. Here is a list of full-time students who were named to the St. Ambrose University Dean's List for the Fall 2020 term. These students earned a GPA of 3.5 or higher (on a 4.0 scale).

Read More

So, what's next?

Are you ready to take the next step? Click on the visit button below to learn more about our virtual and in-person visit options.