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Nursing Her Way Back

Alumna battles back from coma to pursue career in healthcare

When a severe bacterial infection left Mackenzie Giordano in a coma, doctors worried she wouldn’t be able to walk or talk never mind graduate college.

But Giordano wouldn’t take no for an answer. After almost three months in the hospital and intensive physical, occupational and speech therapy, a determined Giordano defied expectations by walking, talking and earning a bachelor’s degree in exercise physiology from Bridgewater State.

“I wanted to get better,” said Giordano, who completed her degree in December. “I wanted to get my life back.”

After graduating from Bridgewater-Raynham Regional High School in 2018, Giordano enrolled at the University of Alabama, where she earned a spot on the cheerleading team. During her first semester, she started to feel ill and got into a car crash when she tried to drive herself to the hospital. In addition to bacterial meningitis, she suffered a stroke that weakened her right side and had an abscess on her brain. At one point, doctors didn’t think she would survive.

But Giordano made a remarkable recovery and turned her attention back to college. Bridgewater, which is just five minutes down the road from her home, was a natural fit as she increased her academic load from a couple of courses to becoming a full-time student again.

“I thought I would eventually go back to Alabama,” she said. “I didn’t realize how much I would actually love BSU. I felt very comfortable there. It was awesome.”

Giordano, who still has some weakness in her right side, praised Student Accessibility Services for help with accommodations such as having a notetaker and extra time to write answers to exams. Professors, she said, were equally supportive.

“They at first helped me ease back into college,” she said. “They were just wonderful. They were so accommodating and nice.”

After exploring degree possibilities, Giordano – who has always been an athlete – found a fit in exercise physiology. She hopes to become a nurse so she can help others just like the many medical professionals who assisted her.

“I think I would make a great nurse,” Giordano said. “I can inspire people because I’ve been through it.”

She’s already doing so just by sharing her journey.

“Never give up,” she said. “Always just fight for your goals because anything is possible.”

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