BMCC Student Veteran Overcomes Active Duty Brain Injury to Earn 3.94 GPA
NEW YORK, May 2, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- On August 25, 2006, says Vincent Acevedo, "I was an explosives handler in the U.S. Marine Corps, on assignment in Iraq. We'd taken over an insurgent stronghold right outside the city of Ramadi, about 65 miles west of Baghdad." Acevedo and his buddies were bunked down in a house that night when the blast from a rocket-propelled grenade hurled him through a wall. "Thankfully, I'm in one piece," he says quietly. "I had all my gear on, and that saved my life."
This June, Acevedo graduates from BMCC with an Associate in Criminal Justice degree and a 3.94 GPA, and in the fall he'll begin working toward his bachelor's degree at John Jay College of Criminal Justice—but the journey from that terrible night in Ramadi has been anything but smooth. Seemingly recovered from his injuries, Acevedo completed tours of duty in Africa, Saudi Arabia and, finally, in New York at the United Nations. Then things got complicated. "I'd suffered what was diagnosed as a mild traumatic brain injury," he says. "The thing about that type of injury is that the symptoms may go away for a while only to come back later."
Hospitalized first at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, near Washington, D.C., then at the Marine Corps's Warrior Strengthening program in Barstow, California, and finally at the Navy's Wounded Warrior program in Bethesda, Maryland, Acevedo underwent intense cognitive rehabilitation. As his recovery progressed, Acevedo's resolve to go back to school grew stronger, too. He was also treated for PTSD—post-traumatic stress disorder. "A lot of us come back from overseas and find we have problems adjusting to civilian life," he says. "Being an explosives handler is hard. You want to save the world—or save your friends."
His attitude, throughout, was not to give up. "I think of the brain as a muscle that has to be constantly trained," he says. "It's still hard for me sometimes to remember certain words or put sentences together. Repetition is key to recovery, and I work at it every day." Also, he says, "My professors at BMCC have been incredibly supportive. They've given me extra time on assignments and tests and been totally accommodating and understanding."
In class, he records lectures with a tape recorder and listens to them at home, over and over.
While pursuing his bachelor's degree in criminal justice, Acevedo intends to also take the New York Firefighter Exam, and give himself time to decide what he really wants to do. "What I do know is that I love helping people," he says.
Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC) of the City University of New York (CUNY) enrolls over 24,000 degree-seeking and 10,000 Continuing Ed. students a year, awarding Associate Degrees in 31 fields.
Contact: Lynn McGee
SOURCE Borough of Manhattan Community CollegeBack to top