Crafton Hills College (CHC) alumnus Laura Goodkind crossed the finish line for Team USA on the world stage in Tokyo during the 2020 Paralympic Games.

It was the second appearance (Goodkind’s first was 2016) at the Paralympics for the rower and 2009 CHC graduate. During both the 2016 Rio and 2020 Tokyo Paralympics, Goodkind competed in the mixed double sculls event and placed tenth in their event for both Games.

Goodkind began college at CHC and initially pursued psychology. The CHC alum eventually switched over to the college’s renowned EMT program, becoming certified as a level-1 EMT. Some of Goodkind’s fondest memories of CHC were in the program, calling them the “best instructors ever.”

“I have some amazing memories with the EMS Department and was able to become a skills instructor for a bit after completing the course,” Goodkind said. “While a student and instructor, my favorite days were Over the Hill, when we set up as true-to-life as possible scenarios that our future (EMT) students would run into when working. Whether I was a student figuring out how to solve the situation or organizing the scenarios for future EMTs, it was always a blast to be hanging out in that department.”

Goodkind’s time at CHC was brief but led to lifelong friendships, including with many of the faculty and instructors.

In 2009, Goodkind left CHC, earning an associate of arts degrees in both psychology and liberal studies. The Paralympic rower went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in psychology at Whittier College, while also dual-enrolled at Southern California University of Health Sciences.

It was after CHC that Goodkind began rowing. In 2014, the athlete became exceptionally ill as a result of secondary complications from a swallowing disorder, developing sepsis and septic shock that same year. It was that illness, however, that began the rower’s path toward Paralympic glory.

“A dietician recommended that I hang out with people like me and I realized she meant people with physical differences,” the rower said. “She didn’t want me to engage in sports as my vitals were all over the place, and I didn’t want to attend a support group, so we had to compromise.”

Goodkind searched for Paralympic sports clubs in the area. The CHC alum began playing different sports and with that, Goodkind’s vitals began to improve

But the rower’s trajectory toward the Paralympic Games was far from seamless. In 2015, Goodkind became homeless -- but the alum's love for sports never wavered.

“I attended two different events, one for table tennis and one for rowing that year,” said Goodkind. “Both sports had staff telling me I might be able to fast track it to (the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games).” 

Goodkind could choose only one -- and the idea of traveling all over the world in beautiful locales to row was ultimately the deciding factor.

The Paralympian expressed gratitude to all of the people who lent their support over the years, including all of those who cheered Goodkind on at CHC. For the current and future students at CHC, Goodkind said, just one piece of advice should take them far: believe in yourself.

“We are more than our situations or labels,” Goodkind said. “We can rise above any situation at any time, make our own path, our own destiny.”