Hit & run survivor graduates college, reveals heaven encounter

CREATED Dec 15, 2012

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MILWAUKEE - Mai Kaw Xiong needed a walker to move around during her recovery time at Froedtert Medical Center earlier this year.  She wore high heel stilettos when she graduated from Alverno College on Saturday. 
 
"It's a big step forward into my future," Mai Kaw told TODAY'S TMJ4 reporter Tom Murray.
 
Mai Kaw nearly died.  Crossing the street with friends on Milwaukee's east side, a hit and run driver slammed into Mai Kaw.  Doctors feared the young woman would only survive a few days.  She spent weeks and weeks in an induced coma. 
 
Mai Kaw says she encountered heaven.
 
"Not many people know, I remember had a huge flashback of being at the border of heaven.  I was surrounded by golden gates," she said.  "Everytime I tell people that, that's when it hits them.  Let go of your worries, your pain, move forward."
 
A judge sentenced the driver who struck Mai Kaw to four months for not stopping.  Mai Kaw and her family attended the sentencing.  They were disappointed in the jail term.
 
"I'm optimistic, but I'm angry," Mai Kaw said.  "I was definitely angry that day."
 
Now, she is focused on the future.  Mai Kaw feels nearly fully recovered and is even playing volleyball again.  She believes she survived for a greater purpose.
 
"It makes me so much more grateful," Mai Kaw explained.  "More ambitious to aim for something larger in life, to be more effective and inspirational to others.  I think that is my role.  I think that's the reason I came back."
 
Mai Kaw aspires to a career as a creative director, possibly in advertising.  She plans to take a year off before starting graduate school.