Florida International University

Student Overcomes Major Obstacles to Graduate From FIU

Some extraordinary college students are graduating from Florida International University after facing tremendous adversity.

It's been a long journey to the cap and gown for Oliver Stensby, 28. The hospitality major at FIU has faced two major obstacles on the way to graduation.

"There was a time there where I really felt like giving up completely," Stensby said.

Four years ago, Stensby watched his mother die of cancer. After dealing with his grief and heartache, he was hit with another blow. He was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome. It's a rare condition that left him paralyzed.

"I went into full paralysis within a few days, not knowing what was going on and my nerves completely shut down and I ended up in the hospital," Stensby explained.

He was in a lot of pain and in and out the hospital for a whole year, but he didn't let this get in his way.

"I was always doing it for my mom with the rest of my family, friends and loved ones but I just really did for her and of course, myself."

After months of physical therapy, Stensby relearned how to walk, eat on his own and even drive a car. He had incredible motivation and was determined to finish his education.

He eventually went back into the classroom and dutifully completed all his assignments. On Monday, he finally finished his goal to graduate with a college degree.

"Finally, finally. It should have been, you know, 2012, but it's finally coming to the next chapter in my life. It's gonna be nice walking across the stage and actually being able to walk without braces or being pushed in a wheelchair."

Stensby also has big plans for after graduation. He is looking for jobs in the hospitality field and is considering getting his masters.

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