December 10, 2007

'Today Show' to air business student's story Dec. 25

by Sun Min


Caption follows story

CARBONDALE, Ill. — A Southern Illinois University Carbondale College of Business and Administration student who overcame a brain injury will be the topic of a segment on the NBC program "The Today Show" on Dec. 25.

Last week, NBC producers and camera crews were on the Carbondale campus to interview Alejandro Figueroa, a senior majoring in marketing.

In December 2000, Figueroa was involved in a near-fatal automobile accident in North Carolina, where he was stationed as a battalion training clerk in the U.S. Marine Corps.

Figueroa suffered a traumatic brain injury and lay in a coma for six weeks. When he awoke, he faced a long road to recovery so he moved back to his hometown, Aurora, to be near his parents, Joe and Ernestina Figueroa. "I had to relearn how to do just about everything, including how to walk and talk," he said.

Despite his impairments, Figueroa held onto his dream of attending college and nothing, not even a traumatic brain injury, was going to stop him. He enrolled in the SIUC College of Business and Administration in 2004.

"It was hard in the beginning but I stuck with it," he said.

Figueroa, 28, is now poised to become the first college graduate in his family "despite everything that has happened to me," he said.

Figueroa will earn a bachelor's degree in marketing from SIUC on Saturday, Dec. 15. "I proved to myself that I can do anything I set my mind to. Against the odds, I recovered from my brain injury and I will fulfill my dream of completing my education!"

Figueroa said he could not have reached his goals without guidance from others. "I owe everything to my parents and the College of Business faculty and staff," he said. "I'm really grateful for my parents who pushed me through recovery. Without their support, I wouldn't be where I am today."

Figueroa also praised marketing faculty members Maryon F. King and David A. Campbell.

"Dr. King allowed us to take the ball and run with it and Dr. Campbell always made class interesting," he said.

Figueroa credits the College of Business and Administration Career Services and Placement Center and its director, Donna Margolis, with helping him prepare for a successful career. "Donna is outstanding. She and her staff helped me with my resume, signed me up on eRecruiting and advised me on all aspects of career building."

After graduation, Figueroa hopes to work in event planning and promotion. If his track record is any indication, Figueroa will have no trouble making his mark in the business world. "He's an amazing young man who has overcome significant adversity to excel," said King.