Alumna Rachel Basset returns to campus on Law Day to present courage award in her name

Three months after graduating from Salve Regina’s five-year administration of justice program with a master’s degree in 2013, Rachel Basset fell ill with symptoms that included syncope, dizziness, severe heart palpitations and a rash. A month after her 23rd birthday, she began an odyssey that included several hospitalizations, and dozens of doctors’ examinations and tests. The results were startling: viral meningitis and encephalitis.

On Law Day (Friday, May 1), Basset will present the Rachel Basset Department of Administration of Justice Courage Award during Salve Regina’s 16th Law Day Observance at 6 p.m. in Bazarsky Lecture Hall, located in O’Hare Academic on Ochre Point Avenue. The event is free and open to the public.

Daniel J. Knight, a retired special agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation who has taught in Salve Regina’s administration of justice program for 15 years, will be the featured speaker and be inducted as an honorary member into Alpha Phi Sigma national criminal justice honor society.

Once diagnosed, doctors believed Rachel could return to her normal young adult life in 12 months. But instead, things got worse. She writes:

“Just a few months after the diagnosis, I woke up one morning and found that I could not move my legs,” Basset writes. “My legs were completely numb, I had no sensation of pain, temperature, or pressure. I ended up in a wheelchair and back in the hospital with a new diagnosis of Guillain Barre Syndrome, a disease where the body attacks itself after an illness and causes indefinite paralysis. This was the lowest point of my life, I could no longer walk, I had lost my independence, and my spirits were falling.

“What saved me at this time was the love and support of my family, friends, and former teachers at Salve. After reaching out to my former advisor, (J. David) Smith, calls and well wishes were sent my way. The well wishes helped more than my teachers could imagine; I had a complete support system and realized that my former Salve teachers were not just my teachers, but another family, another support system. With the constant support of everyone, I slowly became stronger and regained my independence.