hen Robert Aliano was struck in a hit-and-run in 2008, doctors said he'd never wake up.
But defied the odds. Not only did he wake up, but he hasn’t given up. On Sunday, he walked across the stage and received his diploma from Quinnipiac University.
Aliano was walking on Whitney Avenue in Hamden, less than a mile from the university, when he was hit in November 2008. He was thrown over a telephone pole and suffered two punctured lungs and brain trauma.
The hit-and-run is still unsolved.
After two-and-a-half years, Aliano stood up and walked, on his own, with his fellow students.
"It's been a long way," Aliano said. "At one point, I never thought I'd be back here to walk across the stage."
Robert does four or five therapies every day, his mother, Lori Aliano, said.
"When he got hit, the doctors just said that was it, they didn't think they could do anything," Aliano’s mother, Lori Aliano, said. "They told us to put him in a nursing home and he'd never even wake up."
Last year, Robert was in a wheelchair. This year, he’s walking and talking again.
"I just never gave up," Aliano said. "That's just the point. Never give up."
With the help of his family and girlfriend, Aliano was able to attend graduation after completing all his courses and overcoming enormous challenges.
When he attended his classmates’ graduation two years ago, his father made a promise.
"We did come here and I did say two years ago that we'd be back," Nick Aliano said. "I said it might be a year or two, but we'd be back. We just kept the faith."
Robert is looking forward to the future.
"I'll probably have a family of my own with my girlfriend," he said. "We'll see where the road takes us."
He received a Bachelor’s degree in marketing.