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Dickinson native defies the odds, heads back to UND after traumatic brain injury

Published: Aug. 18, 2021 at 2:04 PM CDT
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DICKINSON, N.D. – College students are packing up and heading back to campus.

Classes at North Dakota’s state colleges and universities begin on Monday.

Among those returning is 27-year-old Shayna Monson.

It’s a day many never thought would happen for the Dickinson native.

Six years ago, Shayna and two friends were hit head-on by a drunk driver. Her friends, Abby Renschler and Taylor Goven were killed. Shayna spent months in the hospital with a traumatic brain injury. Doctors didn’t expect her to live.

But Shayna has proven them wrong. Her recovery has been amazing, and her story is truly good news.

Shayna Monson is packing up and getting ready to head back to University of North Dakota.

“I’m so nervous,” she admitted.

This isn’t her first time leaving home for college. Shayna attended the University of North Dakota once before.

“I’m sure I’m going to cry just as hard as I did before when I drop her off,” said Shayna’s mom, Connie Monson.

But this time is different.

“It’s just scary,” said Connie.

“I wanted to be an anesthesiologist,” Shayna recalled.

Shayna was on track to achieving that goal. But in the summer of 2015, everything changed.

Shayna has spent the past six years recovering from injuries she suffered in a crash that killed her two friends. A drunk driver struck their car head-on. Shayna spent time at QLI in Omaha and Craig Hospital in Denver and at home in Dickinson with her mom.

For her mom, this sendoff is bittersweet, a mixture of pride and fear.

“I know there’s going to be stumbles along the way,” Connie shared.

But as Shayna has proven time and time again, nothing can keep her down for long.

Shayna and Connie struggled with where Shayna would live when she returns to UND. Connie wanted her to be in the dorms because she can’t drive. Shayna wanted to live off campus like she did before. Their compromise: a one bedroom apartment on campus, in front of the bus stop.

As for her studies, Shayna has will be studying neuroscience and parasitology.

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