FIU student defies odds, walks across stage for his diploma

Aldo Amenta used exoskeleton to walk during commencement ceremony

SWEETWATER, Fla. – A Florida International University student graduated Sunday, walking across the stage for his diploma despite having suffered a debilitating spinal injury years earlier.

Aldo Amenta, an international student from Venezuela, was seriously injured in 2015 in a diving accident at a pool. Amenta, who normally uses a wheelchair, used a exoskeleton to retrieve his diploma. 

"It was an amazing experience," Amenta said. "For me it was a milestone to accomplish. Being able to cross the stage walking is something that's really meaningful."

Amenta said his brief walk took many hours of practice with the exoskeleton, but he said all the hard work was worth it. Amenta graduated with a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering. He plans to continue his studies with a master's degree.

Because of the accident, Amenta considered dropping out of FIU but a university scholarship -- FIU's Ignite Campaign -- allowed him to complete his studies and continue his treatments.

"At FIU, we take pride in the accomplishments of our students and their determination to succeed," said FIU President Mark Rosenberg.