Elizabeth Ramos could have been any one of the happy Cal State University of Long Beach graduate, Tuesday. But her journey to commencement was a little different than anyone else sitting before the stage on a breezy day.
Elizabeth was supposed to graduate last year, but she was sidelined when she was out on a run and was hit by a car. She was severely injured and because she was running without her ID, she lay in the hospital for 24 hours, unidentified. She suffered injuries to her head. And, her left leg so badly injured, doctors worried they’d have to amputate. They put her into a medically-induced coma and for five weeks, her parents watched over her and prayed. Their prayers came true when she finally awoke March 11. The first thing she did was ask for her phone so she could ask her teachers if she could graduate with her classmates. They told her no. She had a semester left to finish and a lot of recovery time.
Amazingly, just over a year later she did graduate and without any assistance, she walked across the stage to pick up her diploma. The graduating class of 2014 gave her a standing ovation. Her parents call today a miracle among so many they’ve witnessed over the year. Doctors worried that she might lose her left leg or perhaps never wake up and live in a vegetative state. Instead, Elizabeth surprised her doctors, family and friends as she continued to make progress. She started in a wheelchair, progressed to a walker, then with starting walking with a leg brace and a cane. With more hard work, Elizabeth was able to walk without any of that.
Her father says, he says if you don’t believe in miracles, you should just look at what Elizabeth has accomplished with her faith, determination and true grit.
Elizabeth graduates with a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics and she’s studying for the MCAT and hopes to go to medical school. She’s thinking she might want to be a geriatrician that would allow her to care for the elderly; people like the 76 year old man who hit her last year. She holds no anger for the man, but when I asked her what she would say to him, she said, “I think I would tell him that he changed my life… you know there's limitations on what i can do, so I want him to know that, he did hurt me.” But also, she believes her time in the hospital around doctors and as a patient will make her a better physician.
She also has one other goal. She would like to run again. Both her parents are runners and she loved running. Doctors give her a 50/50 chance. But considering how far she’s come since that day in February, the odds are likely better than 50/50.
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