Scholarship Profile: Ignacio

Ignacio is a former U.S. Air Force member who was preparing to train in the exclusive Combat Systems Officer program when an accident dramatically changed the course of his life. Despite his setbacks, Ignacio has determined to complete his education. He is a recipient of the Retention Grant which has assisted him achieving his dream of obtaining a college degree.

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

In 2012, I was selected as a Combat Systems Operator and then advanced to alternate pilot scheduled to leave for training with dreams and hopes to be a fighter pilot in the U.S. Air Force. I was in the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corp and duly enrolled with Georgia State University and Georgia Tech. I felt that all of my lifelong childhood dreams were coming true. In December, I was driving my motorcycle home and was struck by a van making an illegal left turn. My life as I knew it ended in a second, literally, and I was rushed to the hospital without a pulse undergoing pulmonary cardiac arrest. I woke up three months later and did not leave the hospital until May of 2013, when my long rigorous climb to complete rehabilitation began.  I am now paralyzed from the waist down with less than a 1-2% chance of regaining my ability to walk, but I know I will. 

What financial challenges influenced your decision to apply for scholarships?

While serving in the Air Force, I had been awarded various scholarships to cover my educational expenses, however since I already had the Hope scholarship and the Pell Grant the Air Force scholarship would not cover anything else. After my accident, that was no longer an option. I had already exhausted my previous scholarships and no longer qualified for the Air Force ones since I could no longer serve. While trying to stabilize  my health, my family reached out to Georgia State to find resources that would help me complete my education.

What are your future plans?

In time, I hope to regain the use of my legs. I have seven years to do so, which then I will be able to regain my position in the Air Force program. If not, I hope to continue my career within the Department of Defense and be able to apply my wonderful Managerial Science degree in one way or another.

How will you contribute to the Georgia State community?

I am really grateful for the assistance I have been given and I want to inspire others to continue to pursue their dreams. I hope to contribute to the community by serving as a role model for others. I want to show people that they can carry on despite their difficult circumstances.