An Alumni Hero’s Journey

Cowley Digital Content Producer Story of Perseverance

X-rays and film photos of Kris Ripley's accident. Blue car.
Pictures before and after Ripley’s accident. (Courtesy Photo)

One early morning, the person who’s in charge of digital content for the college Kris Ripley lost control of his vehicle on his way to school and hit a guardrail, which flipped the car over seven times.

Kris Ripley posing at his desk
(Photo by Leah Darnell)

Ripley remembers still being conscious. “I thought I was dreaming at first because the pain hadn’t set in. I look[ed] down and pretty much my legs were broken.”

“Even when someone leaves a room and you don’t say goodbye or I love you, they could be gone tomorrow and it completely changes everything.”

Ripley later found out that he broke his femur on one side. “[My femur] was flipped upside down and hanging from wires in the dash, and my other leg was wrapped around the top of the steering wheel.”

Ripley also broke his pelvis and didn’t know if he would ever walk again.

Fast forward ten days from the accident and Ripley started his journey to normalcy, which spanned nine months.

Ripley recalls his mother being by his side every step of the way. During rehabilitation, she would visit from three hours away frequently just to see him and bring him food. Since, as Ripley claimed, “the food sucked,” he looked forward to his mom’s fried chicken and mashed potatoes.

After making a full recovery, Ripley looks back on his accident.

“[It was a] pretty big eye opener, definitely put into perspective how many things I took for granted. Like simple things, just getting up out of a chair and just how short life can be, and your interactions you take for granted with people. Even when someone leaves a room and you don’t say goodbye or I love you, they could be gone tomorrow and it completely changes everything.”

During his high school career, Ripley recalls drawing and painting all the time, even playing a variety of sports before the accident. After making a full recovery, Ripley was glad to have the talent of art to fall back on.

His passion for art stems from early childhood. “I remember making my mom draw me stuff. I would be like ‘Can you draw me this? Can you draw me this?’ and was really intrigued by watching her draw things. Then one day she was sick of drawing stuff and was like ‘You draw it!’… I would [make] all my family members [draw me] stuff too … I guess I was pretty annoying,” said Ripley.

Kris Ripley Dj'ing on his grey laptop while at an event.
During Dodgeballalah on Oct. 26, Ripley showcases his DJ talent. (Photo by Felipe Escalante)

Besides being the digital content person for Cowley, Ripley does additional projects to keep him busy. “I now DJ on the side, and I produce a lot of electronic music … I do a lot of graphic design for Cowley and a lot of t-shirt designs for Cowley and I have done a lot of outside designs for other people.”

In addition, Ripley invested in himself and got a screen printing press so he could start his own clothing business. “I am in my second year, it keeps me really busy when I am not here,” said Ripley.  

In the midst of everything that Ripley has gone through, he remains positive about life and doesn’t take for granted the small things that life provides.

  • – By Leah Darnell, Sports Editor & Felipe Escalante, Campus Editor