Woman who became quadriplegic at 21 named Roosevelt University commencement speaker

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Michelle Henton, 37, will earn a master's degree in clinical psychology from Roosevelt University. (WLS)

A woman who became a quadriplegic 16 years ago, will give the commencement speech during Roosevelt University's graduation ceremony on Friday.

Michelle Henton, now 37, will earn a master's degree in clinical psychology, and has always been able to make the best of a situation. At 21, she was an aspiring cosmetologist after a car crash.

"We had too many drinks and we made the bad decision of driving home. And a block before we reached our destination, we hit two parked cars and one moving car," Henton recalled.

After the crash, Henton built on her strength as a great listener and decided to become a therapist.

"Being a cosmetologist, you know, the ladies talk in the chair," Henton said. "So I figure, I can't be in their heads the way that I would want to be, so I'll get in their heads in a different way."

Over the years, Henton got her associate's degree, then enrolled at Roosevelt to study clinical psychology. First she got her bachelor's degree, becoming the first person in her family to graduate from college.

Bibiana Adames, Henton's clinical psychology professor, said she has been an exemplary student.

"Even though she refers to herself as being differently abled in the classroom, she doesn't carry herself in a way that makes you feel like she expects a different treatment," Adames said.

Henton said she was stunned to find out she was selected to give the student commencement address.

In her speech, she says that anything is possible.

Roosevelt's commencement is 2 p.m. Friday at the Auditorium Theater.
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