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Georgia Tech graduate student overcomes traumatic brain injury to get degree

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Posted at 5:39 PM, Dec 17, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-17 17:39:24-05

In a sea of caps, there are innumerable stories.

Matthew Parzych is one of those stories.

“Data analytics is my degree,” Parzych said.

A software engineer by trade, his interest in the subject emerged after his wife, Erin, was diagnosed with breast cancer 11 years ago.

“Over-the-top support, over-the-top everything, where he just went to bat for me and made sure I had the best care,” Erin said.

“I was amazed how they were using data analytics to determine how to treat her,” Parzych said. His relentless research led to Erin receiving care that did not require chemotherapy. She has been cancer-free for over a decade.

Interest piqued, Parzych applied for and was accepted into, Georgia Tech’s M.S Analytics program.

But during the summer of 2019, just one semester into his degree plan, he suffered his own tragedy.

“The last thing I remember is walking over there,” Parzych said.

Matt was in Florida helping a friend install a Murphy bed when it collapsed on him, causing a traumatic brain injury.

“We were driving up through our street, and I saw a fire truck and an ambulance, and I knew immediately, for some reason, that it was Matt,” Erin said.

Matt was in a coma, one doctor worried he wouldn’t emerge from.

“They thought I was going to die,” Parzych admitted.

Erin kept the faith.

“He’s going to walk across the stage,” she recalled telling the doctors. “He’s going to do that.”

Matt came out of the coma three weeks later. he started rehab and re-learned how to stand, walk, and use his phone.

When his condition improved, he asked to be transferred to the Shepherd Center in Atlanta. So, he was taken by plane from Florida to Atlanta for the next stage of his recovery.

By the start of fall, with support from Georgia Tech, he was back in the graduate program and working as a teaching assistant.

“The TA thing gave me a lot of confidence because I realized I remembered a lot of what I learned,” Parzych said.

And as it became his time to walk across the stage, Erin’s prophecy came true.

“She was my healthcare advocate,” Parzych said. “She was my biggest advocate.”

Matt’s quick recovery is unusual for a TBI. He knows this, and he intends to enjoy each and every step.

“I don’t use the word lucky,” he said. “I feel fortunate.”

Parzych is planning to use his M.S. in Data Analytics to work in healthcare. He’d like to work on treating traumatic brain injuries. He’d also like to work at the Shepherd Center.