celebrate education - brought to you by the amarillo globe-news

Grad overcame severe burns

By 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.

calendar of events
  • January 11
    Kickoff of 2009 Program
    Find out what Celebrate Education is all about in this special section in your Sunday paper.
  • March 7
    Regional Spelling Bee, West Texas A&M University
    The annual Regional Spelling Bee will feature the top spellers from the Amarillo area. The top five winners will receive scholarship money ranging from $500 to $5,000 and the winner will travel to Washington, D.C., in June to represent the area in the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
  • Spring and Fall
    Amarillo Reads community-wide reading projects.
    Dates and details TBA
  • April
    Amarillo Education Matching Grants Program. Exact date TBA
  • April 10
    What's a Kid to Do Special Section
  • April 12
    What's a Kid to Do at the Amarillo Civic Center
    This event will focus on activities and camps for children to participate in during the summer..
  • May 8-29
    Beating the Odds
    A series of stories published daily in the Amarillo Globe-News during the graduation season that profiles people who have inspiring stories to tell about the degree they are about to receive.
  • May 12
    Ready for the Real World program at Amarillo Civic Center
    AISD juniors get training on what's going to face them in a little more than a year.
  • May 16
    Best and Brightest Special Section
  • May 16
    Best and Brightest Event at West Texas A&M University
  • Fall
    Discover College Day
    Fifth graders from area schools visit college campuses.
  • October 1
    Great Jobs Special Section
    Focusing on well paying jobs available in the area that people may not know about.
  • November 2
    Career Education Special Section
    Focusing on businesses and others in the community helping young people gain a career vision.
  • November
    Yes You Can Event
    Designed to help people gain information about the next level of education from GED to PhD. Date TBA.
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