Determination (Brooke Ellison)
“No matter what sort of adversity or challenge you might face, you can always believe that, with hope, it can be conquered and, in the end, you will be stronger for it.”

—Brooke Ellison

In September of 1990, when Brooke Ellison was 11 years old, she was hit by a car while walking home from her first day of 7th grade. The accident left her paralyzed from the neck down and dependent on a ventilator to breathe.

Despite Brooke’s physical limitations, she has overcome many challenges and excelled academically. After scoring 1510 out of a possible 1600 on the SAT, Brooke was accepted to Harvard University. With the tireless help of her mother, Jean, who lived with her in the dorms for 4 years, Brooke graduated magna cum laude in 2000.

Brooke said, “Life isn't always easy and we are never guaranteed that things will always go smoothly…It progresses with an almost constant series of challenges, but these obstacles are just detours that we have to take in order to meet our ultimate goals. No matter what sort of adversity or challenge you might face, you can always believe that, with hope, it can be conquered and, in the end, you will be stronger for it.”

Brooke currently travels the country as a motivational speaker, has made numerous TV appearances, published an autobiography with her mother, and is the subject of a film for A&E, The Brooke Ellison Story, directed by Christopher Reeve. Brooke went back to the Kennedy School of Government for her Masters Degree in Public Policy and is now a Ph.D. candidate in political psychology at Stony Brook University. She is also a member of the board of directors of the National Organization on Disabilities.

Determination. Pass It On!

This billboard about Determination features Brooke Ellison; first quadriplegic to graduate from HarvardUniversity, author, motivational speaker.

Pass It On®

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Your Comments
Rebecca Goldberg from Foster City, California JANUARY 10, 2018
Brooke, your story inspires us all. Your courage, determination, hope and love lift us all up. You are truly a great force for good in this world! God bless you. Rebecca Goldberg Foster City, California

Bryan from CA SEPTEMBER 18, 2016
Upon watching the film, it made my heart feel good. Brooke, your parents raised you to become a success and it is really nice to read inspirational stories from you. Being paralyzed was scary when I heard it and once again congrats on being accepted into Harvard!

ben from hopkins MI APRIL 16, 2014
I saw the movie about your life and i was simply amazed at what i saw.

Zozo from canada APRIL 7, 2014
wow that's all i can say wow

travis from UT JANUARY 29, 2014
i feel like i want to die every time i read that some got hurt, but it takes alot to have determination and brooke ellison has done this.

Paula from Sunderland, MD NOVEMBER 15, 2013
I shudder to think of what we would all look like if our imparements were obvious, you, Brooke, are beautiful and your life's mission, past, present and future is a spectacular example of answering the call on your life. When tested in life, our "other self" (Napoleon Hill refers to in "Outwitting the Devil") shows up. Thank you for maintaining control over the ONLY thing in life we all can have control over...our state of mind. Thank you for inspiring me. God Bless.

Mery from Texas AUGUST 28, 2013
It's so nice to read this kind of inspirational stories from people with an extraordinary spirit, you have become an inspiration for me, May God bless you for being exactly how you are Brooke and I do believe in what you said: "these obstacles are just detours that we have to take in order to meet our ultimate goals"

Alicia from Laguna Niguel AUGUST 26, 2013
My challenges are very little and I have not been able to overcome them.You are truly an inspiration. Give me sometime I will conquer all my fears and achieve every goal I have set for myself in the past. today is 8/26/13 I will post soon what I have accomplish thank to your amazing courage. Thank you

Kelvin Njenga from Kenya APRIL 3, 2013
God bless you when I read through I get encouraged.

cathy rodgers from bloomburg tx MARCH 11, 2012
I think you are so strong and so is your mom. and I know you will help lots of people by your story.


person2a from canada OCTOBER 11, 2011
that's scary. But it's amazing that she worked through it!

Oh my gosh that is so cool. You are an inspiration!

gab, f from philippines JUNE 23, 2010
Good day, Ms. Brooke - Your story is such a motivational tool for anyone who wants to be innovative. You are very right on your thoughts... I know that it's not easy to be successful. But with your story, it actually gave me some courage to be brave on this path... THANK YOU VERY MUCH!

Anahi Lopez from Washington APRIL 19, 2010

Suzett Osuna from Phoenix,Az MARCH 25, 2010
That has been the most emotional story that i have ever read. She has moved me from what I'm passing thru and she is a brave person.

Bridgette L. from Paris, France SEPTEMBER 22, 2009
You are so inspiring!!

Amy R. from Queen Elizabeth School, Canada JANUARY 13, 2009
Brooke was so brave she has moved me. I'm the same age she was when the accident happened. And she's dependent on a ventilator to!

Anonimo from Portland, Oregon JANUARY 8, 2009
Brooke, Wow Harvard! :) Congratulations on your achievement. You inspire me so much. You are truly my roll model. I know, to be where you are, requires a lot of work, dedication and focus. I know because I am a student too. You deserve this and more. I'll tell you my secret, I have you on my laptop wallpaper and maybe you won't believe me but I am an A student since I found your billboard. Bless you.

Lena K. from Oregon, USA NOVEMBER 7, 2007
This is amazing. Hey, my comment was published! Brooke, you are truly an amazing person!

Lena K. from Oregon, USA NOVEMBER 6, 2007

Eric C from California JULY 9, 2007
On occasion the effort to raise children, put them through school, work etc. causes one to want to question why one works so hard. When I see such inspiring pictures as you have on these billboards, I quickly remember that I can work much, much harder and the results are well worth the effort. I send these to friends and family to help inspire them when they have those moments of doubt and hesitation. Thanks again and keep it up!

G. B. APRIL 9, 2007
Congratulations that's a real good effort on her part. I need to really try harder. This picture and the message with it bring such new joy and encouragement for me. I know that I can try harder now. I hope that more people can be able to see this inspiring picture. I enjoy seeing these billboards so much. Just seeing them when I drive to work gives me new found pride and encouragement. Please keep spreading these billboards around. I appreciate it so much. Thanks again all of you special people that helped put these together. I need to have determination just like her. Maybe she can lend me a little. She seems to have plenty and I don't have any. Thanks again and again and again.

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