Paralyzed man takes long road to graduation

BOWLING GREEN, KY. (AP) - A bullet may have paralyzed a Bowling Green man's body, but it focused his mind.

After being shot in 2007, Phillip Cole II returned to his hometown of Bowling Green and began taking classes again at Western Kentucky University. He was one of more than 1,000 students to graduate this month, the Daily News reported.

Cole had tried to take classes at Western right after high school a decade ago, but said he kept changing majors and flunking out. He moved to Louisville for a change in scenery, but went back home after the shooting.

He says a friend turned him on to business classes and he majored in accounting.

He called the shooting a blessing in disguise because it helped him become more focused

"I wouldn't ever wish my situation on anyone," he said. "But after all that, I've set myself up for a better future."

He said he's been called brave for going back to WKU, but he doesn't agree with that description.

"I feel like I didn't have a choice," he said. "This is what I needed to do."

He said his life didn't stop after the shooting. "I had to get out and do something," Cole said. "I wasn't made to live like that at all."

Cole said an accounting firm in Bowling Green has hired him as an intern and he plans to become a public accountant. "I feel like I could go anywhere," Cole said. "It's like for the first time in my life, I feel like I can do whatever I want."

He said family, friends and the faculty at Gordon Ford College of Business all had a hand in helping him be successful and he is grateful. Cole was one of 867 students to receive baccalaureate degrees from Western this month. Another 257 also receive graduate degrees.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.