Student Spotlight: Mark Bigelow

From Darkness to Hope: A Near Death Experience Drives Mark Bigelow to Pursue His Degree


By Stacey Batchellor |   July 2010

Mark Bigelow , Student

"When you come out of a coma and do know not where you are or what happened, you realize how precious life is and that at any moment it can be taken away from you," says UMUC student Mark Bigelow.

In 2005, Mark suffered a vicious attack from a baseball-wielding madman that left him with near-fatal injuries. He survived against all odds, but was given the prognosis of being mentally handicapped. “I did not die, nor am I mentally handicapped,” states Mark. "However, I do have some limitations."

As a result of his injuries, Mark is often in pain and suffers from traumatic brain injury (TBI) that causes him to tire easily and have difficulty with multitasking. Despite the challenges he faces, he has never given up. In fact, his near-death experience has given him the drive to succeed in accomplishing his goals.

Prior to the attack, Mark owned a successful construction company. When he awoke from his coma, he decided that it was time to focus on earning his degree, a goal that he had put off to run his business. After exploring his options, he enrolled in UMUC’s online business management program. "I like the online courses because they allow me to do the work at any time," says Mark.

In addition to the flexibility of the program, Mark praises UMUC's faculty for accommodating his disabilities. "The instructors have gone out of their way to help me," he says. Mark mentions that UMUC Professor Bryan Nilsen was particularly understanding of his condition and helped him to stay on track with his studies.

Of Mark, Professor Nilsen says, "In spite of incredible odds, Mark has a great sense of humor and doesn't give up. I'm proud [of] his achievements and indomitable will."

Mark is currently taking two classes a semester and hopes to graduate in 2010. In the meantime, he is trying his hand at real estate and would like to someday be a motivational speaker. With his degree underway and new opportunities on the horizon, it is not hard to imagine that Mark can accomplish anything that he sets his mind to.