Khalil Watson, 25, suffered a severe spinal cord injury that got him paralyzed after he was shot in the neck in 2016. The incident happened just weeks before the Virginia student’s high school graduation and prom, causing him to miss both events.
However, the disabled man had something to smile about during his college graduation on Monday after he successfully walked across the stage to accept his diploma. The 25-year-old was able to do this memorable walk with the help of a wearable robotic exoskeleton, New York Post reported.
In the video of the memorable moment that was captured by the Sheltering Arms Institute, Watson is seen being helped to rise from his wheelchair before he starts walking with the help of the exoskeleton and two canes. As the Reynolds Community College graduate walks across the Siegel Center stage to receive his diploma, attendees are seen giving him a rousing standing ovation.
Watson, who was also able to pose for pictures, said he cherished that moment because the paralysis had prevented him from attending his graduation from Highland Springs High School.
“Anything is possible,” he told NBC 12. “I did this for God, myself, friends, my family. I mean if people only knew how I got to this point.”
Besides suffering a physical injury from the shooting, Watson said he also got mentally drained, adding that learning how to eat, speak and properly breathe again made him feel like a baby. However, going through extensive therapy did not deter Watson from furthering his education, as he enrolled at Reynolds to pursue a course in social work, New York Post reported.
He managed to try out Sheltering Arms Institute’s exoskeleton while in physical therapy some years ago. The device allows users to walk and do other tasks by detecting the least movements that the wearer makes.
About his next educational step, Watson said he plans to earn a bachelor’s degree in social work before eventually getting his master’s. He said he wants to pursue his degree course at Virginia Commonwealth University.
“I have a passion for helping others, and after going through the things that I have experienced, I feel like I’ll be easy to connect with and understand individuals who have similar or worse situations,” Watson told NBC 12.