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Grad overcame severe burnsBy David Pittman
Sergio Correa peered under the hood of his old Chevy pickup in September 2006 at just the wrong time.
The truck burst into flames, engulfing him from head to waist.
"We were just trying to get the car started," Correa, now 34, said. "I was priming the carburetor."
The injuries he suffered proved devastating.
Thirty-five percent of his body bore third-degree burns. He spent nearly six weeks in a coma and three months in a burn unit at University Medical Center in Lubbock.
"I went through just about every infection you could think of," said Correa, a Friona native who lives in Hereford with his wife of more than 10 years.
Still, Correa has overcome his injuries and will graduate this month from Amarillo College with an associate degree in criminal justice. He will continue his education in the fall studying the same field at West Texas A&M University.
Sarah Uselding, an AC criminal justice instructor, said she's struck by Correa's perseverance and tenacity.
"Nothing deters him," Uselding said. "He doesn't let anything get in his way."
Correa had to relearn actions most people don't give a second thought: how to stand, walk, even feed himself.
When he entered the hospital, Correa was a lean 160 pounds. Unable to eat solid food, his weighed dwindled to just 115 by the time he left.
"I was like a toothpick," Correa said.
A little more than two years after leaving the hospital, Correa credits his recovery to an optimistic outlook.
"Just have a positive mind," he advised. "Don't give up."
Editor's note: Beating the Odds is a series published in the Amarillo Globe-News from May 10-24 that tells the stories of all kinds of students who are graduating despite challenges they've faced. It is part of Celebrate Education, a program designed to bring awareness to the need of educational attainment in the Texas Panhandle.
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