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Local

NIU grad recovering after Fort Hood shootings


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A spring graduate of Northern Illinois University is recuperating in a Texas hospital after he was injured in last week’s shooting at Fort Hood Army base in Texas, according to members of his family.

Army Staff Sgt. Miguel Angel Valdivia, 35, was shot in the hip and the leg, said his sister, Alma Valdivia.

Miguel Valdivia is a May 2009 graduate of NIU, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in mathematics, according to NIU records.

Valdivia was in DeKalb studying for another degree at NIU this fall when he received word in October that he was being recalled to active duty, Alma Valdivia said. He went to Kansas and California before arriving at Fort Hood on Oct. 31.

Miguel Valdivia was one of 30 people, including the gunman, injured in the Nov. 5 shooting, which also left 13 dead. Authorities say 39-year-old Army psychiatrist Maj. Nidal Hasan walked inside the base’s Soldier Readiness Processing Center and began firing more than 100 rounds.

Hasan was wounded after exchanging gunfire with two civilian officers in Fort Hood’s military police unit and remains hospitalized under guard at a San Antonio military hospital. His attorney will not allow him to be questioned by authorities.

Valdivia also is still in the hospital recovering from his injuries, his sister said, adding that he had surgery the day of the shooting. He was in a private hospital until Wednesday, when he was transferred to a military hospital, she said.

Miguel Valdivia called the night of Nov. 5 to inform his family of his injuries and to tell them he would be OK. Their mother picked up the phone, Alma Valdivia said.

“My mother was crying, and said, ‘No, I don’t believe him, I think something else is going on,’” she said. “It was a scary moment. We thought maybe he was OK, since he was able to call.”

Her parents, as well as two of her siblings, are in Texas with Miguel now, Alma Valdivia said.

“They wanted to make sure he is OK,” she said. “He is in pain right now, but he will be getting  physical therapy and eventually he will get better. It will take four to six months for him to be totally OK.”

Instructors in the math department at NIU said they were surprised to learn Valdivia had been shot, and sent wishes for a speedy recovery to their former student.

Professor Bernard Harris said Valdivia took two of his courses. Harris recalled a time during a lecture where he wrote a mistake on the board and Miguel called his attention to the error.

“He said, ‘OK, down for 20,’” Harris said.

Professor Harvey Blau had Valdivia in class in the spring for an abstract algebra course. He described him as a hard-working student who wanted to do a good job.

“I wish him a speedy recovery and a little upturn in his future,” Blau said. “It’s a really tragic event.

“It’s something nobody should have to undergo.”

• The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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