Roseville Graduate Walks across Stage after Spinal Injury

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A Roseville man who spent the last ten months recovering from a serious spinal cord injury walked on stage to get his Masters Diploma.

Last August, Matt Metcalf was organizing a fun slip n slide day for his sons’ Cub Scout troop, when suddenly he fell, and instantly became paralyzed from the neck down. Doctors told him the impact of the freak accident was so intense, it punched a bulging disk into his spinal cord. They told him he would likely never walk again.

At this point, Metcalf was 11 months into his 21-month Masters of Public Health program at Drexel University Sacramento, and the people around him all doubted he would finish the degree. Metcalf, however, was determined to recover and have a degree in hand by June, 2014.

“The second night he was in the ICU, he told me to bring his computer so that I could type what he dictated, because he had a paper due just a few days later,” wife Alisha said. “I was like forget it…no way… you’re not in your right mind. I’m not working on that for you. But that is how dedicated he was to it. He wasn’t going to let this little tiny thing that was being paralyzed keep him from getting his papers turned in.”

Metcalf spent the next several months in intensive rehab, and little by little, gained some mobility. He sent his professors an email explaining his situation, and said many of them were very understanding. Much of his classwork was accepted virtually.

“His dedication is amazing,” Marcella Gonsalves, Director of Drexel University MPH program said. “I’m so excited to see what he accomplishes in the future. If he can do this, he can do anything.”

On June 21, 2014, Matt Metcalf walked on stage without a walker, without a limp, and with a big smile.

“Doctors told him he’d never walk again, and he didn’t want that to happen so he ‘worked through the pain,’ That’s one of our family mottos,” son Davin said. “And he also ‘did his best,’ which is the Cub Scout motto, and it was a miracle.”

Although Metcalf has always been a health advocate, he said the whole experience was “a gift,” and that it “happened for a reason.”

“Spinal cord injury was not on my radar screen before,” Metcalf said. “It wasn’t something I knew much about, but going through it, it opened my eyes to a whole new world.”

Metcalf said he is 90% recovered, and hopes to help other suffering from spinal cord injuries in the future.

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