Alexander Bosnakis’ life changed abruptly. On a hot September afternoon three years ago, Bosnakis was driving home down Blair Road in Mint Hill on a motorcycle he had just finished building when a truck pulled in ahead of him. With no time to brake, he was thrown like a rag doll over the hood of the Ford F-150 and landed on the pavement several feet away.
Luckily he can’t remember anything.
Bosnakis’ list of injuries reads like an anatomy primer – which is fitting given the senior biologist, who graduates on Saturday, plans to apply to medical schools in the spring.
“I had cerebral swelling and bleeding,” he says. “I broke my nose. I broke both wrists – I shattered my left wrist – broke both arms, broke my right leg, broke my left foot and broke both ankles, shattered my pelvis and fractured my last vertebra.”
Bosnakis was in a coma for a month, suffered a stroke on the second day in hospital and contracted pneumonia as his lungs collapsed in the accident.
It’s amazing that he’s alive. “I shouldn’t have done that,” he says.
Thanks to the efforts of teams of medical staff and his own determination, Bosnakis somehow got through it and today the only real impact he’s feeling from the accident is persistent hip pain, some barely noticeable mobility impairments and a renewed sense of purpose.
An indifferent student before his accident, Bosnakis was ready to make the most of his second chance. And boy did he need one.
“The best grade I got before was like a 3, if that,” he says. “I just didn’t take college seriously and wasn’t trying as hard as I should have.” He was suspended from school for a semester and had just returned to class when the accident happened.
But the wreck woke something up in Bosnakis, who became an A/B student. He will graduate with a degree in biology and a minor in psychology and will receive his diploma along with 116 other students at Wingate’s fall start on Saturday. In addition, 150 graduate students will receive their degrees at the ceremony, which begins at 10 a.m. in the Cuddy Arena.
No one will be more grateful to receive his diploma than Bosnakis, who enrolled at Wingate for the first time after graduating from nearby Piedmont High School in 2016. After struggling academically early on, he now has big plans: he will spend the next few months studying for the Medical College Admission Test, which he hopes to take in the spring, with the intention of graduating to medical in the fall of 2023 go to faculty.
“When I came back, I was basically a different student,” he says.
The accident was like a slap in the face that made him reconsider his life.
“You realize the beauty of life and how much you take for granted,” he says. “I can’t go back in time to when I was stupid in school and didn’t take it seriously. I’m sorry, but I believe everything happens for a reason. I think I’m better suited for my future than before. I don’t think I’d have a chance of getting into medical school with my old mentality.”
After two and a half years of operations, Bosnakis also has a good idea of what he wants to do with his medical studies: become a surgeon. He writes to his orthopedic surgeon Dr. Madhav Karunakar for making him fully healthy again. Bosnakis is left-handed and with his left wrist crushed the lack of mobility could have devastated his future.
“I have more than enough mobility to write and do everything I’ve done before,” he says. “DR. Karunakar was even surprised when he took off all the hardware.”
Bosnakis had to learn to walk (his gait is different now thanks to a swollen left foot) and he had to relearn some cognitive skills after suffering the stroke. Even today, his brain occasionally has to search for a while to find the right word, but for the most part he’s back to normal with all his memories (except for the accident) restored.
“He has overcome some traumatic experiences but has a very positive attitude and mindset,” says Dr. Matt Davis, who tutored Bosnakis in Psychology 303: Learning and Memory in Fall 2021. “Things aren’t perfect for him right now, but he’s still in the process of recovery and the fact that he’s a biology major is a good testament to his inner strength.”
Bosnakis underwent surgery after surgery even after returning to the classroom. Because of the long road back to physical health, he needed the personal mentoring that a Wingate education provided to help him make an academic turnaround.
“I knew what I had to do and I was motivated to do it,” says Bosnakis. “My whole state of mind was very different when I came back. Many of my professors really helped me because I was still undergoing surgery and they were very considerate. They cared.”