Rocky Paneno

Glendale, CA

University of Southern California

B.S. Math, M.A. Education/Teaching Credential

Rocky’s older brother Sam was the first Swim With Mike scholarship recipient to attend a school other than USC. Sam, injured in a UC Davis football game had his leg amputated but went on to the UC Davis School of Law and is now a practicing attorney. Like Sam, Rocky was a promising football player who hoped to attend USC on a football scholarship. A slip from a balcony while in Florence Italy with a friend sent him six floors down and on to a small patch of grass resulting in a shattered spine, ruptured kidneys, and spleen, collapsed lungs and a loss of heart muscle and leaving him close to death and in a coma. Following a kidney transplant and a regime of tortuous rehabilitation, Rocky has learned to live life as a paraplegic but he credits his sports training with his ability to adapt, deal with pain and adversity and turn his losses into victories. When Rocky was injured, he couldn’t help but think about the doors of opportunity that may have closed. He wasn’t prepared for the fact that his new abilities as a human being and the abundant generosity of people such as those involved with Swim With Mike, would pave the way for the fulfillment of his dreams. He was thrilled to be in such an academically challenging environment studying Mathematics at USC. Rocky graduated in the spring of 2009 and was admitted to the Rossier school of education at USC where he earned his teaching credentials concurrently with his masters in education. Also, a standout artist Rocky is certain to be an outstanding educator and role model.