Aug. 5, 2013
BOCA RATON, FL - Former Florida Atlantic University softball player Diandra Fernandez will receive her undergraduate degree this week.
When Fernandez, a criminal justice major, came to FAU four years ago she was an All-Dade County infielder from Florida Christian School. At a softball practice her sophomore year, Fernandez was hit in the face by a ball that fractured her nose, left orbital bone and collapsed a valve in her nose. Several doctors examined Fernandez and all agreed that not only was her playing career over, but there was a possibility that she would lose her eye.
While waiting to undergo surgery, Fernandez returned to school to take her final exams, despite pain and double vision in her healthy eye. Her injuries prevented her from traveling with the team and driving. Her teammates were an inspiration by making sure she had transportation to the places she needed to be as were her parents. The eye surgery took place shortly after exams and within weeks her vision had almost completely returned.
Next was surgery on the collapsed valve, which took place in November 2011 after Fernandez pushed to have the procedure done in time to allow her to return to the field for her junior season.
Fernandez was given the all clear to resume her softball career, provided she wear a face mask. On February 12, 2012, less than 11 months after suffering what was believed to be a career-ending injury, Fernandez returned to the field as a member of the FAU softball team. In her final two seasons, she appeared in 28 games with 14 starts for the Owls.
"Everything happens for a reason," Fernandez said. "I'm graduating with both eyes, my nose and a heck of smile."
She cites faith as one of the biggest reasons she was able to persevere. Her favorite verse is 2 Corinthians 10:12 "For when I am weak, I am strong."