From coma to college grad: Boca Raton man encourages others to fight for their dreams

From coma to college grad: Boca Raton man encourages others to fight for their dreams (WPEC)

Alexis Vazquez feels like he is on top of the world.

“I feel overjoyed, I can’t believe it. We all did this, thank God,” the Palm Beach State College graduate said after his ceremony at the South Florida Fairgrounds Expo Center Wednesday afternoon.

Walking across the stage to a receive a degree is an important moment for any college student, but it was a special occasion for the 31-year-old Boca native.

It’s an achievement that seemed nearly impossible almost 11 years ago.

Vazquez spent months in a coma after he and his girlfriend at the time were hit by a car near Spanish River Park along A1A in Boca Raton back in August 2007.

He was 20 years old at the time.

Vazquez suffered severe brain injuries and broken bones. His family didn’t think he was going to survive.

“It’s amazing," said Maria, Vasquez's mother. "He’s gone through so much. We are so proud.”

Vazquez had to relearn how to eat and talk. Nerve damage caused him to shake and it affected his ability to write. It was challenging, but Vazquez eventually regained his physical strength.

“My physical obstacles were walking, and talking and drinking,” he said.

Right now, he works with special needs students at Boca Raton High School. He also does public speaking to motivate others.

“I will always continue to inspire others," Vazquez said. "I’m not going to stop doing that, I will never give up.”

Vazquez said his faith motivated him to keep going. He wants those who are currently living in darkness, like being in a coma, to know there is help there and you can overcome it.

“I feel like they’re in a coma," he said. "They feel like they’re dead. They feel like life cannot go on. So, do not quit. That’s my biggest encouragement. Do not quit."

His other advice is simply to “just try.”

Vazquez plans to get his Bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies at FAU.

He said classes begin this summer.

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