TTU's Drew Hixon is among the 600 graduates on Saturday

Earning a degree is a triumphant event, and Saturday’s commencement exercises in the Hooper Eblen Center marked a particularly happy ending for one Tennessee Tech University graduate.

Drew Hixon, the TTU Golden Eagle wide receiver who was critically injured in a football game at the University of South Florida on Sept. 11, 2004, received his bachelor’s degree in finance.

His accomplishment comes just a year after the severe brain injury that left him in a coma for several weeks in a Tampa Hospital intensive care unit. TTU President Bob Bell recognized the student athlete; his parents, Stan and Rebecca Hixon; and other family members at Saturday’s ceremony.

During last year’s game in which the accident happened, all four quadrants of Hixon’s brain were injured when he took simultaneous hits from two South Florida defensive backs.

The injury forced doctors at St. Joseph’s Hospital Emergency Center in Tampa to put him into a medically induced coma, a condition he was in for nearly five weeks before he revived.

Following the coma, Hixon spent eight weeks in intensive rehabilitation to undergo speech, cognitive and physical therapy.

He and his family made a triumphant return to TTU on Jan. 29, where they were greeted with a standing ovation at Hooper Eblen Center.

Hixon returned to TTU as a student in August to complete the final two classes he needed to graduate. He was one of about 600 students who earned degrees from TTU on Saturday.