FARMERS BRANCH (CBSDFW.COM) – Derek Madrigal received a hero’s welcome when he walked into Brookhaven College Tuesday morning.

“You are surrounded by your Brookhaven family,” said college president Thom Chesney. “We weren’t going to let the opportunity for us to shower him with well wishes and make sure he knows the door is open the invitation is here.”

The visit was bittersweet for Madrigal since he had to withdraw for the semester, so he can focus on his recovery.

“I’m surprised I’m actually up and walking and doing normal stuff I’m doing now, because I didn’t think I would,” Madrigal said of his ability.

In March, Madrigal was beaten with the lid of a cooler and stabbed on a crowded South Padre Island beach. According to police, the young man was attacked while trying to protect his girlfriend from men who were harassing her.

Madrigal continues to heal from his injuries, including nine stab wounds, but there are more than scars left.

“My arms, I can’t straighten my arms,” he said. “I can’t grip my left thumb. My tendons are messed up in my arms.”

His father, Frank Madrigal, says it’s been hard watching his son recover.

“It’s difficult because the recovery as much as anything else is a reminder of the road we’ve had to travel,” he said. “There are thoughts of sadness and also thoughts of great success and great strength.”

During his Brookhaven visit friends and faculty surrounded Madrigal.

“I’m about to cry!” student Adriana Cantu said emotionally. “He’s just a really good guy! I’m just glad he’s home and a lot better. I know he would do it again [try to help] if it was me.”

When asked if he would do it again — defend a woman — even if he knew the vicious attack he would Madrigal’s answer came without hesitation.

“I get asked that many times. Yes, I would. There is no doubt in my mind. Yes, of course. I’m still here right,” the 21-year-old said assured and defiantly.

Authorities have arrested nearly a dozen gang members in connection with the violent attack against the North Texas college student.

Ten members of the San Antonio-based “Texas Mexican Mafia”, a notorious prison gang, have been charged in the attack.

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