College graduation is a special landmark in a person’s life.
But for Matthew Faulkner, Saturday’s commencement from Canisius College took on an even more special meaning.
That’s because he was not expected to be there following an automobile accident four years ago that left him with a traumatic brain injury.
He was in a coma for nearly two months and not expected to survive.
But he took his place among 726 Canisius students, who graduated Saturday during ceremonies at the University at Buffalo’s Alumni Arena.
“It feels like quite an accomplishment,” Faulkner said, after receiving his college degree.
The crash occurred at an East Aurora intersection about three months before graduation from West Seneca West High School, Faulkner said.
He was a passenger in a car driven by a friend who pulled into oncoming traffic. Mercy Flight transported him to Erie County Medical Center with a brain injury.
Doctors were uncertain that he would survive.
“But I proved them wrong,” said Faulkner, who wrote the book “Most Likely to Survive” about his experience.
Twelve days after he came out of the coma, Faulkner walked out of the hospital and was able to attend his high school graduation.
He then took a year off to recover more, and during that time he attended Erie Community College, where he earned nine college credits to add to the 18 he already had earned in high school.
In the fall of 2010, he started at Canisius College, where he majored in economics and finance.
“I love that stuff,” he said.
These days, Faulkner is “totally self-care and independent.”
He drives and had been working part-time as a market analyst at BidURenergy for about a year while he finished his studies.
Now that he has finished his undergraduate studies, he is looking forward to working full-time.
Also during the Saturday morning commencement, Bishop Richard J. Malone delivered the address to Canisius students and received an honorary degree along with Donald L. Trump, president and chief executive officer at Roswell Park Cancer Institute, and Walter Sharrow, PhD, emeritus professor of history at Canisius College.
Elsewhere Saturday, commencement ceremonies were held for Buffalo State College, D’Youville College, University at Buffalo Law School and University at Fredonia.