Hernando teen learns to read at 12, graduates at 19

- Hard work, determination, and overcoming long odds; Billy Patterson is living proof you can accomplish anything. 

Patterson's journey to a high school diploma is a tribute to his gutty resilience.

The recent Hernando High School grad was born with a brain defect, affecting his eye sight. He also had a bad heart and needed a transplant at Johns Hopkins All Children Hospital in St. Petersburg.

In spite of the struggles he faced, graduating from high school was his priority.

Monalisa Patterson is Billy's sister, Monalisa described the moment he walked across the stage at graduation. 

"It was awesome... I am so proud of him and everything he has overcome," she said.

Billy's father, Monte added, "he always has a pretty good attitude with it. He always ends up smiling."

Billy's mother, Alisa said he did not learn to read until he was 12, which makes his graduation - at the age of 19, even more spectacular. 

"He went from learning to read at 12 to graduating at 19," she said. "He just shot through school so fast."

Billy graduated with help from the Hospital Bound Program, which sends teachers to students' homes to help them graduate.

With that little bit of help, and a lot of hard work and and resolve, Billy accomplished his graduation goal.

"I went and hugged my mom who was crying," he recalled of his graduation night. "Just to graduate after it taking so long to get to where I am right now."

Billy is going off to Pasco-Hernando College to study computer research. 

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