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UI student faces bright future after skiing accident

URBANA -- A University of Illinois student beat the odds after a scary skiing accident.
URBANA -- A University of Illinois student beat the odds after a scary skiing accident. Now he has bright hope for the future. Matt Schuelke is graduating in the spring and he has many options for where he can go next.

"I've always been interested in science, always wanted to be a doctor," said Schuelke.

But Schuelke may not have fully appreciated the profession until his junior year of high school.

"Got in a skiing accident where I got this bad boy," said Schuelke, while he pointed to a scar on his forehead.

He went on a trip with his church youth group and they tried to tackle a black diamond jump.

"All my friends went off and then I went off at the end," said Schuelke. "And I came down head-first on a rock and it got me right between my goggles and my helmet. And crushed my skull and drove a bone into my brain and I was out like a light."

Schuelke was unconscious for two days. But less than a week later, he was out of the hospital. He said it was a miracle that helped him see faith and science come together.

"The Lord answers prayers and desires to be working in people's lives but he doesn't usually use crazy, miraculous things," said Schuelke. "He uses a neurosurgeon. He uses physicians and scientists to be enacting the change he desires to make in the world."

Schuelke came to the University of Illinois for his undergraduate degree.

"He is a special guy, yes," said Schuelke's research mentor Wawrzyniec Dobrucki.

But in the past couple years, he's been doing graduate-level work.

"When a very talented person with whom you work leaves, then it's a big disaster for the lab," said Dobrucki. "It will be very hard to find a replacement for him."

Now Schuelke said he has a clearer vision for his future.

"I want to be simultaneously seeing patients and doing research," said Schuelke.

And he's happy to help others even more after seeing religion and medicine at work firsthand.

"My work is an opportunity the Lord can have to be impacting people and to have significance to my medicine," said Schuelke.

Schuelke has a couple of big decisions ahead of him. He'll choose a graduate program in Texas, Indiana or Minnesota. But he's already made another very big decision: he's engaged and the wedding is set for this summer.
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