Louis Zinanti successfully navigates his education in spite of a traumatic brain injury
As an operation specialist in the Navy, Louis Zinanti, RC ’13, was the eyes and ears of his ship. He was a skilled navigator and proud to serve his country well. But in 1997, just before the end of his tour, his life took an unexpected turn when he sustained a significant blow to the head while helping move a file cabinet down a flight of stairs. He was treated for the injury and eventually sent back to work, but found it a challenge to fulfill his duties due to memory loss.
When Zinanti got home, things did not get any easier. He plodded hazily through his days, working as a welder and carpenter, still plagued by debilitating migraines, substantial memory loss and an inability to recall details essential to daily life. That haze eventually cost him his marriage and drove him into a serious depression.
In January 2010, 12 years after the accident, Zinanti sought help from the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs, where he was diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury. The news actually came as a relief. It reframed his struggles. With a new understanding of his brain injury and a renewed desire to get his life on track, Zinanti enrolled at Regis University. “I chose Regis, in part, because of its environmental studies program, but also because of the small, personal feel,” says Zinanti, who has relished the one-on-one care he receives from Regis professors.
It hasn’t been easy. “Some things stick and some things don’t,” Zinanti says of his memory. He has to read a passage multiple times in order to comprehend and he is easily distracted. Despite these challenges, he has soldiered his way to a 3.4 GPA and talks animatedly about his internship at the National Water Quality Lab where he analyzes water for signs of pollution.
Zinanti’s journey has been a long one, and while he wishes he hadn’t “lost twelve years,” he is grateful to have finally found his place at Regis University. Zinanti will finish his degree in December 2013, and begin to navigate his next adventure – his life as a scientist.
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