UNT Dallas

UNT Dallas Grad Shows How Perseverance and Positivity Pay Off

Ariel Berkowitz, a double amputee, will graduate from UNT Dallas this weekend

NBCUniversal, Inc.

The road to graduation isn't always easy. Few people know that better than Ariel Berkowitz.

"It's not easy," Berkowitz said. "No one said it would be easy."

Berkowitz is part of The University of North Texas at Dallas' graduating class of 2022. A few years ago, he didn't know if he'd ever go to college.

"I don't really remember much. I was hit by a train, and the train dragged me for about 90-feet," Berkowitz said.

He left the hospital in 2016 as a double amputee; one leg was amputated below the knee, the other above the knee.

"I had tubes in my mouth...so I wrote down, 'Am I getting robot legs?'" Berkowitz said, recalling his hospital stay. "I'm like a really positive person, and I'm not going to let something like this define me."

Berkowitz went from a wheelchair to physical therapy and prosthetic legs.

"You've been walking for like 20 years of your life, and all of a sudden, you have to learn how to do it again," Berkowitz said.

Berkowitz worked hard to be able to get around campus on his prosthetic legs without having to use a walker.

"He's very dedicated to his work, his studies, and he has a desire to give back," said Muhammed Yousufuddin, UNT Dallas Assistant Professor of Chemistry. "Those are the kinds of students we want to graduate."

"I had this positivity inside of me, I just needed to tap into it in the right ways," Berkowitz said.

In losing his legs, he gained a purpose.

"I would say it's to help people in the future. I know that there's people out there who need my help."

After graduation, Berkowitz plans to intern at the prosthetic lab where he got his legs, then apply to occupational therapy school so he can help others like him.

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