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Austin man set to graduate after surviving suicide bombing in Iraq

Qusay Hussein was only 17-years-old when he lost his vision and nose to a suicide bomber in Iraq.

AUSTIN -- An Austin man who survived a suicide bombing in 2006 is set to graduate from Austin Community College on Thursday.

Qusay Hussein was a 17-year-old in 2006 when a suicide bomber drove a truck into a stadium in Iraq, where the teen was playing volleyball, and blew himself up.

Hussein lost his vision and nose. He was one of 56 people injured. Sixteen people were killed. Thanks to help from American soldiers, Hussein was connected to Doctors Without Borders.

Eventually he received 58 reconstructive surgeries in the United States. He ended up in Austin because of the School for the Blind and because he needed to see a facial reconstructionist who helped him use his nose once again.

Hussein recently received his American citizenship. On Thursday, he will accomplish another major milestone -- graduating from ACC and serving as the keynote speaker.

On Wednesday, he met with his Spanish professor, Julie Kleinhans-Urrutia, one last time.

"He is the most motivated person I have ever met," she said.

Kleinhans-Urrutia said when they first met a year-and-a-half ago, she had no idea what he had been through -- a past he still uses for motivation.

"This is my dream to help others because two years when I was in Iraq after my injury, I do nothing, just close the door on me. I felt it," he said.

So for the past two years, Hussein has been taking classes at ACC, pursuing his associate's degree. Because one day, he wants to get his Ph.D. in psychology and help as many people as possible.

Hussein doesn't want anyone to lose hope. Ever.

"This is a beautiful moment when I help others," he said.

So as he walked the halls of ACC one last time on Wednesday, he also is also taking the first steps toward his future.

After graduation on Thursday and his keynote address, he's off to study abroad in Romania next month.

When he returns, he starts UT Austin in the fall.

Congratulations, Qusay!

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