Aldo Amenta received a standing ovation as he walked the stage at his college graduation, but this was no ordinary feat.
In 2015, Amenta broke his neck in a serious diving accident his freshman year of college. He spent two weeks in a coma, had collapsed lungs from an infection, experienced his heart stopping twice, and ended up paralyzed.
He was forced to put his education on hold while he underwent therapy for years to relearn how to walk with an exoskeleton.
At that point, he didn’t think he would graduate from college, let alone walk at his graduation, but his accident didn’t get in his way of earning a master’s degree from Florida International University.
When it was time for him to graduate, he defied all odds and walked across the stage to receive his degree, a proud moment and incredible milestone for him, as the crowd cheered.
“If you don’t know where to begin, just take the first step and I’m pretty sure that you’ll be able to accomplish anything that’s in your heart,” he told CBS 4 Miami. “Always be grateful for what you have because you’re alive right now. So, take advantage of anything.”
His journey with his spinal cord injury inspired him to pursue a career in medical engineering.
“I want to use my knowledge, my expertise, my personal experience and use my degree as a biomedical engineer to be able to get in the industry, be able to do research and develop new technologies for people like me or anyone that might need it,” he told News 7 Miami.
Amenta says he hopes to walk again some day with help from a stem cell treatment or a stimulator device.
Watch his inspiring moment at graduation in the video below: