Hanaa Thiegiel's Visit to Centennial Rotary

Thursday, August 18, Greeley Centennial Rotary welcomed Miss Hanaa Thiegiel as the guest speaker for the day. Miss Thiegiel is from Iraq and living in the Untied States while continuing her graduate studies at Colorado State University School of Veterinary Medicine. It was an extraordinary event for everyone present.

Six years ago, Ms. Thiegiel was a teaching assistant at the Bagdad School of Veterinary Medicine when she took time off for her wedding and honeymoon. As she and her husband were returning to Bagdad, their car struck a road bomb. Her husband was killed and Ms. Thiegiel’s legs became paralyzed.

When Dr. Paula Cowan, a veterinarian who lives in Ault, presented a seminar in Kawait, the Dean of the Bagdad School of Veterinary Medicine told her about Ms. Thiegiel’s injuries and negative prognosis. It was critical that she leave Iraq to have an opportunity for further rehabilitation. Dr. Cowan contacted a member of Centennial Rotary. When Centennial Rotary learned of Ms. Thiegiel’s plight, the members raised over 140,000 frequent flyer miles, with Rotary International supplying the last 40,000 miles, to bring Ms. Thiegiel and her companion to Denver. For five months, Hanna lived at the Greeley Center for Independence (GCI) accessible apartments and received intensive physical therapy and support at the GCI Hope Therapy Center. Ms. Loretta Scott was her life coach who helped her learn to speak English. Ms. Thiegiel had learned to read English when she was in fifth grade, but Ms. Scott taught her to speak English, tutoring her each evening, often assigning her as many as 400 words a night.

Ms. Thiegiel left Greeley to enroll in the Colorado State University School of Veterinary Medicine. Now fluent in English, she returned to visit the Centennial Rotary and share her progress and future plans. Having completed a master’s degree at CSU, she is now enrolled in the doctoral program, with an emphasis on water borne diseases.

Thank you  Hope Cassidy for contributing this story!