Hill Daniel

Passion for Psychology

Junior Hill Daniel's future is in psychology, but not in a "talk-to-me-about-your-problems" sort of way.

"I'm not interested as much in the clinical side of things; it's more the theory I'm leaning toward," the psychology major said. "I've thought about becoming a high school AP psychology teacher because I like being able to take what I know and help other people understand it."

Hill says he's intrigued by how biology and psychology are intertwined, and if he becomes a teacher, he would like to teach that connection to his future students.

He took a neurological imaging class from Dr. Christi Hu in January, a required course for LaGrange College psychology majors.

"We went to West Georgia Health System and talked with the MRI technician, who showed us MRIs and showed us how the brain looks when a person has been affected with a certain condition," Hill says. "We talked about Parkinson's and autism, and we talked about strokes, too, and identified structures damaged in a stroke. Then later we talked about what's the best way to use therapy to help a person overcome what's happened to them after a stroke, what's the best therapy to use to overcome, say, a speech problem."

Hill knows firsthand how a person may have to re-learn physical skills normally taken for granted or adapt to life after a physical incident. Three years ago, he and his brother were driving home when he fish-tailed his Jeep on a gravel road. That day forever altered his life.

"My brother was fine; he just had a little cut by his ear," Hill says. "But I ended up splitting my T2 and T3 vertabrae, which pinched my spinal cord and kept brain signals from reaching down the rest of my body."
The accident paralyzed Hill from the waist down, but he certainly doesn't let his wheelchair confine him.

In addition to psychology, he equally enjoys his biology classes, and has taken every class he can by Dr. William Paschal, who also is his intramural tennis partner.

"I'm trying to take as many biology classes from him as I can before I graduate," Hill says. "Even though I'm not a biology major, trying to keep up with the biology aspect of psychology is really important to me. Classes like Anatomy and Fundamentals of Evolutionary Theory helped me see how the two disciplines intertwine."

Hill is one of the most active members of the LaGrange College student body and hasn't let being in a wheelchair keep him from doing what he feels called to do. By attending LaGrange College, he is following in the footsteps of his parents, Jackson '81 and Theresa Daniel '82. Jackson Daniel is the current president of the LaGrange College Alumni Association.

"Being in a wheelchair here hasn't been that bad, really," he says. "My freshman year I lived in Henry Hall, and I could take a ramp from there to classes. Now I'm in Candler Hall, and I drive a golf cart up to campus and then use my wheelchair to get to where I need to be. It just requires a little problem-solving."

Hill is vice president of the Alpha Delta Gamma fraternity on campus as well as vice president of the Student Government Association. As a Presidential Student Ambassador, he is one of about 12 students who represent the student body at functions sponsored by LaGrange College President Dan McAlexander.

Along with a fraternity brother, he's also coached a community club soccer team for the past two years and is active in a local church.

"I didn't grow up in LaGrange, so coaching for the Troup County Titans and being involved in a church here have introduced me to the community," Hill says. "There's a lot of time management involved, but I feel it's worth it to be involved in my community, not just on campus."

Hill has donated his time to canned food drives to helping shut-ins who need assistance. The Eagle Scout says he feels a strong need to help those who can't help themselves.

"The past three years I've been in this wheelchair I haven't really let it hold me back," he says. "I've done more this past three years than I have in the first 17."