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Student's incredible journey back
SIX years ago, Oxford University student Kentaro Ikeda was fighting for his life after a brutal attack.
Today, the 32-year-old student from Japan will finally graduate, completing the masters degree he aimed to finish when he arrived in Oxford.
The St Edmund Hall student, who will receive a masters degree in science and education, had part of his skull removed and suffered brain damage after being attacked while he was cycling in University Parks, Oxford, after an evening of study on July 31, 2008.
He was hit over the head with his metal bike lock and left for dead in Mesopotamia Walk.
Two teenagers were jailed for a total of 16 years in April 2009 for the attack.
This week, Mr Ikeda flew in from Japan after a long recovery.
And he told the Oxford Mail ahead of his graduation at Oxford’s Sheldonian Theatre: “I was finally able to complete my degree after six years.
“I feel pleased. Thank you very much to everybody who helped me.
“I would like to show my gratitude to my professor, David Phillips. He particularly cared for me.
“I am very pleased to see people in Oxford, including friends and teachers.”
- Kentaro Ikeda
Mr Ikeda, who began the masters degree in October 2007 after coming to Britain in 2004 to study, added: “I had to manage the writing of my dissertation with my rehabilitation. I took it step by step.”
Following the attack, Mr Ikeda, who still requires occupational therapy every fortnight, was treated at Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital before being flown home to Japan for round-the-clock care.
Mr Ikeda’s mother Reiko, a teacher and mother-of-three – who will be attending the ceremony – was forced to take early retirement to become his full-time carer.
He briefly returned to Oxford last summer to complete his studies and has flown in from Japan again for the graduation ceremony.
Mr Ikeda still has regular hospital appointments in Japan and has occupational therapy every week.
Prof Phillips, Emeritus Fellow of St Edmund Hall, said: “In 2008, I stood by Kentaro’s bedside in the intensive care unit of the JR and could not imagine that he would ever be able to resume his academic work.
“The fact he has been able to pull through after his extensive medical treatment in Oxford and in Japan is testimony to his strength and determination to succeed and to his considerable mental courage. He is a very impressive young man. All who know him in Oxford are looking forward to following his future career.”
Oxford’s Lord Mayor in 2009, Mary Clarkson, collected several thousand pounds from residents for Mr Ikeda.
Much of that money is still in a council bank account and discussions will soon take place over how it can be spent.
She said: “It just shows strength and determination to carry on. I think it is fantastic.”
In April 2009, Thomas Mack, then 18, of Nicholas Avenue, Marston, was jailed for seven years after being convicted of causing actual bodily harm, grievous bodily harm and robbery.
Craig Knowles, then 18, of Oxford Road, Old Marston, was jailed for nine years after admitting causing actual bodily harm, grievous bodily harm with intent and robbery.
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