Brooke Ellison

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Brooke Ellison
Brooke Mackenzie Ellison

(1978-10-20) October 20, 1978 (age 45)
EducationHarvard University (BS, MPP)
Stony Brook University (PhD)
Political partyDemocratic
WebsiteOfficial website

Brooke Mackenzie Ellison (born October 20, 1978)[1] is an American politician. She is known for being the first quadriplegic to graduate from Harvard University.[2]


On September 4, 1990, at the age of 11, Brooke was hit by a car while walking home on her first day of junior high school, resulting in her being paralyzed from the neck down. Although her injuries left her completely dependent on other people, she graduated from Ward Melville High School in 1996 with high honors, and was accepted by Harvard. She graduated summa cum laude from Harvard with a bachelor of science in cognitive neuroscience in 2000, and a master's degree in public policy from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.[3] In 2014 Rutgers University awarded Brooke Ellison with an honorary doctorate in humane letters.[4] Ellison completed her Ph.D. in 2021 from Stony Brook University.[5]

In November 2015, Ellison teamed up with director James Siegel to create the winning documentary "Hope Deferred",[6] which aims to educate the general public about embryonic stem cell research. She is also the author of two books.

The Brooke Ellison Story[edit]

The Brooke Ellison Story premiered in 2004, based on Ellison's memoir Miracles Happen: One Mother, One Daughter, One Journey, which she co-wrote with her mother in alternating chapters following her graduation from Harvard. The television film was directed by fellow quadriplegic Christopher Reeve, the star of Superman. Brooke was portrayed by Vanessa Marano as a child and Lacey Chabert as a teenager. It is also notable for being Reeve's final directing project. The film aired on the A&E network on October 25, 2004, just a few weeks after Reeve's death.[3][7]

Candidate for State Senate[edit]

Brooke Ellison ran for New York State Senate as a Democrat in 2006[8] but was defeated by the Republican incumbent, John Flanagan.[3] Ellison has not commented on whether or not she intends to run for office again. One of Ellison's principal issues is her support for embryonic stem cell research.[3] She serves on the advisory board of the Genetics Policy Institute.[9]

Ellison is also a motivational speaker.[10]

Further reading[edit]

Two decades following the publication of Miracles Happen, Ellison authored and published her second book, Look Both Ways.[citation needed]

  • Ellison, Brooke and Jean Ellison Miracles Happen: One Mother, One Daughter, One Journey (Hyperion Press, New York 2012). ISBN 0-7868-6770-1.


  1. ^ "Brooke Ellison Biography". Archived from the original on 2011-09-07. Retrieved 2012-10-07.
  2. ^ Steinberg, Jacques (17 May 2000). "QUADRIPLEGIC ABOUT TO BECOME GRAD OF HARVARD". Orlando Sentinel.
  3. ^ a b c d "One Woman's Fight for Human Lives: An Interview with Brooke Ellison". Center for American Progress. Retrieved 9 May 2007.
  4. ^ "Stony Brook University Bioethics Department". Archived from the original on 2014-07-21. Retrieved 2014-04-20.
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Boston Film Festival Winners". Archived from the original on 2019-05-14. Retrieved 2011-04-26.
  7. ^ Stanley, Alessandra (25 October 2004). "Getting to Harvard, With Mom and a Wheelchair". The New York Times. Retrieved 25 October 2004.
  8. ^ Lambert, Bruce (20 October 2006). "Paralyzed, 28, and Aiming for the State Senate". The New York Times. Retrieved 20 October 2006.
  9. ^ "Genetics Policy Institute : Strategic Advisory Board". Regenerative Medicine Foundation. Retrieved 21 November 2019.
  10. ^ Jones, Bart. "Pioneering quadriplegic encourages students to overcome obstacles". Newsday. Retrieved 19 August 2018.

External links[edit]