Paraplegic determined to walk across stage at graduation

- Elliot Vasquez never imagined the importance of his graduation from the State College of Florida.

"You've got to put in the time with it," he said.

As he finished studying for finals all he can picture is graduation night.

"It'll just be a milestone that I will look back on," he said. 

As Elliot's name is called, he'll walk across the stage to receive his diploma. It'll be a difficult task.

"Each stride will be used on my hip power and also my upper extremities," he said.

Five years ago Elliot was paralyzed from the waist down after a car accident in New York. He spent nearly a full year recovering, both in and out of the hospital.

Friday night he will use a walker and special braces to guide himself. It'll be his first walk across a stage since his high school graduation.

"Back in high school, I didn't take it as seriously. Walking on stage wasn't as big as an accomplishment of what Friday will be," he said.

Before his accident, Elliot was already enrolled in college classes and working towards earning his associates degree. After he made up his mind and decided nothing was going to stop him from graduating and walking across the stage.

"You're going to see your bad days. You have to balance those bad days with good days. You have to surround yourself with positivity," he said.

Elliot has become a role model around campus.

"He does not let his challenges make excuses for him. As a result of that he's become a leader and not a follower," said academic advisor Trevor Harvey.

For Elliot, one of his lessons is that the best is yet to come.

"To go and seize this moment and walk on stage will just be amazing," he said.

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