Aug. 3 of last year took USF senior Barbara Jimenez’s life on a detour.
On a trip to visit family in Cuba, she was in a terrible car accident, one that left her taxi driver dead and family members seriously hurt.
"I don't remember a lot of it and my memory in the beginning was still very off,” she said.
"The left side of my skull was fractured and it had some damage to the nerves in my left eye. I had my brain aneurism surgically clipped so that's improved dramatically a lot of the vision issues,” Jimenez said.
It took a United States congressman and a volunteer air ambulance called Jet ICU out of Hernando County to airlift Jimenez home to doctors at Tampa General Hospital.
"There were significant diplomatic issues, health care issues, financial issues, logistical issues. We came together as a bay area to help get Barbara home,” U.S. Rep. David Jolly said.
I was surprised to see her walk off the plane with some help, but it would take a year's recovery to really get her back on her feet.
"I want to go to law school. I'm a big reader so the fact that the eye, you know, I had to do the Captain Hook thing and wear an eye patch in public because the left eye would get so tired from focusing that this eye would just start to blur and it was kind of just disheartening in the beginning,” Jimenez said.
Barbie says she learned through audio books and she started to heal from a traumatic brain injury.
"You get through them and you just realize that bad things are only temporary and that's the mistake we make, we think they're permanent,” she said.
Barbie will walk across the stage at USF on Saturday, finally graduating way ahead of when doctors predicted.
"I plan to go to law school for fall 2017. That was the plan before all this happened and it’s kind of motivating me more so now,” she said.