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Boston Marathon bombing survivor Jessica Kensky earns doctorate in nursing

Jessica Kensky, who survived Boston Marathon bombing, earns doctorate in nursing
Jessica Kensky, who survived Boston Marathon bombing, earns doctorate in nursing 02:40

BOSTON - From tragedy to triumph. After losing a leg in the Boston Marathon bombings, Jessica Kensky proudly walked the graduation stage Friday with her service dog, Rescue, in hand.

It took eight years for Kensky to earn her doctorate in nursing from the MGH Institute of Health Professions, so yes, you can now call her Dr. Kensky.

"It's nice to feel like I'm getting back to things that were a part of me and a part of the trajectory that I was on before I was hurt," she told WBZ-TV at her graduation ceremony.

She and her husband, Patrick Downes, both lost a leg after the 2013 blasts. After months of surgeries, rehab and setbacks, Kensky made the difficult decision to amputate her remaining leg. She found the courage to keep going through her supporters and passion in caring for patients.

"She's worked her tail off," Downes said. "I still picture her sitting in her wheelchair at Walter Reed Skyping into her classes."

Jessica Kensky
Jessica Kensky walks the graduation stage with her service dog, Rescue CBS Boston

 All while trying to rebound her body, working through the pain to learn how to walk in prosthetics.

"It took a whole village"  

Then, another tragedy - the death of her father, Dr. Herman Kensky. "It took a whole village of people to get me through," she explained.

"Her courage, her tenacity - even during hard times, she stuck with it," Dr. Margie Sipe, assistant dean of MGH Institute of Health Professionals said.

Kensky's experience as a patient and a double amputee has given her a unique perspective as she heads a team of oncology nurses at Mass. General Hospital, helping those battling cancer.

Kensky said, "It feels like they're my legs forming now, so it's real special."

It's been a painful, tearful journey, but perhaps the biggest takeaway for Jessica and Patrick is their ability to not let the tough times define them.

"To get me here today, it took so many people... they were just determined to make that happen for me," Kensky said. 

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