Student Who Became Paralyzed Walks Across Stage at Graduation: 'One of the Biggest Moments'

"Beyond degrees, titles or awards, I believe that true accomplishment is found in the journey," FIU graduate Aldo Amenta tells PEOPLE

Florida International University
Aldo Amenta. Photo: Florida International University

Aldo Amenta has done it again!

In 2018, Amenta — then an undergraduate student at Florida International University, who suffered a debilitating spinal injury in 2015 — made headlines when he walked across stage to receive his diploma with the help of an exoskeleton.

On Sunday, Amenta conquered an even bigger milestone when he walked across the graduation stage at Florida International University once more, this time to receive his master's degree in biomedical engineering.

Using the exoskeleton, Amenta was met by cheers and applause as he proudly accepted his diploma.

"I wanted to walk across the stage like my fellow graduates to show that we are all equally capable of achieving anything we set our minds to, regardless of background, culture, conditions or age," he tells PEOPLE in a statement. "Beyond degrees, titles or awards, I believe that true accomplishment is found in the journey. Consistent commitment and discipline are key, but believing and taking action is a must. Believe in yourself and you will inevitably become limitless."

Florida International University
Aldo Amenta. Florida International University

Speaking with Miami Fox station WSVN on his big day, Amenta shared: "This is one of the biggest moments of my life. Super excited, grateful, so glad to be here."

In a previous interview with the news outlet, Amenta opened up about his 2015 accident.

"I could have died that day because I drowned and everything," he told WSVN. "After that, my heart stopped.

The young man dived into the shallow end of a pool and broke his neck, according to ABC News. After the accident, which occurred only months into his first year of college, doctors told the Venezuelan international student that he was a quadriplegic and would never walk again.

Despite doctors' predictions, Amenta was determined to not use a wheelchair at his 2018 graduation — and with the help of his physical therapist, Guy Romaine, and the robotic device, he was able to walk.

"It was an amazing experience," Amenta told ABC affiliate WPLG at the time.

Florida International University
Aldo Amenta. Florida International University

Amenta's accident also served as inspiration for his education.

"I want to use my personal experience and knowledge as a biomedical engineer within the industry, so I can help expand on current research and help to develop new technologies for others who are living with a spinal disability," he tells PEOPLE in a statement. "Giving back is also my way of obtaining a second chance at life."

While Amenta has remained in positive spirits, both his undergraduate and graduate careers have come with challenges.

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Back in 2018, Amenta shared with ABC News that he considered dropping out of FIU after the accident because of how his life had "changed completely."

"Now, I depend on a lot of people to help me do my daily activities," he told the outlet. "So, that's become a huge challenge in just my everyday life."

With the help of his friends, family and a university scholarship called FIU's Ignite Campaign, Amenta was able to finish his bachelor's degree in electrical engineering and continue receiving therapy, WPLG reported.

Now, with a master's degree under his belt, Amenta says there's a lot more he wants to do — including pursuing a PhD.

"I am now committed to focusing on my recovery, while giving back," he says. "I dream of walking again and receiving stem cell treatment with a stimulator implant. This could make my recovery possible."

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