Stephanie Nielson will be coming to BYU-Idaho to speak during forum hour on Thursday, Oct. 15 in the John Taylor Building Chapel about her experiences in blogging and public speaking.
On Aug. 16, 2008, Nielson and her husband were in a near-fatal airplane crash. Over 80 percent of Nielson’s body was burned, according to the biography on her blog, NieNie Dialogues.
Nielson’s story became more well-known in 2013 when Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, shared her experience during his general conference talk titled, “Like a Broken Vessel.”
Nielson was so horrifically scarred from the fire of the plane crash that when family members came to identify the victims, she was only recognizable because of her painted toenails, Elder Holland said.
“‘They are scared,’ I realized,” Nielson said in an interview on The Today Show when remembering her thoughts just after the crash. “When they look at me, they are scared.”
Following the fire, Nielson spent three months in a sleep-induced coma.
Once she saw her appearance, Nielson was sent into a deep depression, Elder Holland said.
“Having four children under the age of seven, Stephanie did not want them to see her ever again,” Holland said. “She felt it would be better not to live.”
Nielson shared her experience in her memoir titled, Heaven is Here: An Incredible Story of Hope, Triumph, and Everyday Joy.
“I am amazed with how deep she felt in her recovery process,” said Richelle Turner, a junior studying communication, after reading the memoir. “I didn’t realize that her little girls were afraid to see her because of what she looked like after her accident. I know that was a really hard and trying time in her life, and she probably still feels pain from it.”
Through her faith in Jesus Christ and sharing her journey of healing through her blog, Nielson was able to overcome some of her struggles, Nielson said in her Mormon Message, “My New Life.”
Lindsay Crandall, a sophomore studying early childhood/ special education, has had a few experiences learning from Nielson.
“Her testimony is rock solid, and it really impacted me,” Crandall said. “She has such a positive outlook on life despite what she has been through. She has always inspired me to never give up and to trust in the Lord that he has everything under control.”
Since her accident, Nielson has been actively involved in blogging and motivational speaking.
“I am living a beautiful life despite pain and challenges,” Nielson said.
Crandall said they have been influenced by Nielson’s story.
“I know because she had that experience, she’s able to feel a richness of joy she would’ve never felt otherwise,” Turner said. “She has taught me to be strong in who I am and not let any outside force keep me from progressing in my own perspective and inthe Lord’s.”
Her blog is visited by 4 million people every month, and her story has been shared nationwide.
She has made appearances on Oprah, The Today Show and has been featured in People Magazine, according to her book.
The forum will be held in the Taylor Chapel with overflow in the cultural hall and in various classrooms from 2-3 p.m. The forum is open to all students and faculty.