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“My name is Hugo and I don’t quit. I am not a quitter”

March 13, 2012 by Carissa D. Etters

GREENVILLE – Most 17-year-olds dread going to school, but not Hugo Rubirosa. Rubirosa sustained a level c-six spinal cord injury during a high school wrestling match in January. He has been at Vidant Medical Center since then.
Rubirosa had a bright future and dreams of being a professional wrestler, but those dreams were shattered just as Rubirosa was taking his opponent down. Now the teen has a different dream -- a dream to be a successful business man who travels the world. Although Rubirosa does not have feeling or function in his fingers, he can study alongside his classmates an hour and a half away from the comfort of his hospital room.
While the typical pediatric rehabilitation patient would attend the hospital school, Rubirosa was enrolled in an accelerated program for which he receives college credits. About one-week after being moved to the rehabilitation unit, Rubirosa eagerly logged onto his laptop and used Skype to attend class. The only problem was his injury prevented him from using a traditional mouse. Rubirosa’s therapists noticed his frustration right away and realized he could use a touchpad with a stylus to navigate a computer. So they equipped him with a special wrist brace called a u-cuff and set an iPad in front of him. The 17-year-old was back to school.
The iPad belongs to the Pediatric Rehabilitation unit and is mostly used as an interactive teaching tool. The electronic device is also used as a distraction for children during medical procedures.  But, every morning from nine until 10:30, Rubirosa uses the iPad to watch and listen to his teacher lecture. He can ask questions and interact as if he were sitting in the classroom. Like most teens, he still gets bored and doesn’t like all of the homework.
The high school junior has big plans to attend college. He says if he could go anywhere, he hopes to attend college in another country. Rubirosa still has a lot of academic catching up to do, but because he can get his college credits by attending class via Skype, he is still on track to graduate on time.
“I have put too much work into school to stop now or let my injury slow me down,” said Rubirosa. The teen does get frustrated with his injury, but he said he fights through it because “my name is Hugo and I don’t quit. I am not a quitter.”
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