Alana Copas, an undergraduate in the UK College of Social Work, received the Still We Rise award at a banquet on Thursday at the Gatton Student Center Ballroom. She was among five finalists honored at the event that celebrates the resilience of students who overcome adversity while remaining on track to graduate.
The junior from Bowling Green, Ky. is a member of the UK Cheerleading team, although she can no longer cheer due to a back injury. It was former coach, Debbie Love, who nominated Copas for the Still We Rise award.
Copas walked away from a car accident in January of 2015, but months later the trauma of the event led to the thinning of her hair and in August 2015 she was diagnosed with non-scarring alopecia.
In an essay submitted for the award, Copas said that 80 percent of her hair was lost, along with some of her self-confidence. While her hair eventually grew back, she knows that there are others out there going through the same ordeal.
Copas wants them to know that as difficult as it was, the experience made her stronger.
“It has not only made me a stronger person, but has also opened my eyes and made me realize how blessed I really am,” she said. “I had a great amount of support from my family, friends and my teachers. I was not alone, and I never want anyone else to feel like they are alone either. I can now use my experience to encourage others that it’s okay to be different, because nothing can hold you back on your journey to success.”