‘Anything is possible’: Robotic exoskeleton helps paralyzed student walk across graduation stage
After recovering from a 2016 shooting, Khalil Watson walked across the stage to receive his associate degree from Reynolds Community College.
RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - On Monday evening, 25-year-old Khalil Watson walked across the stage in his cap and gown at the Siegel Center to get his associates degree from Reynolds Community College with help from therapists at the Sheltering Arms Institute and a wearable robotic exoskeleton.
In May 2016, Watson was shot in the neck, causing a spinal cord injury that left him paralyzed.
“It’s been a journey; it’s been lots of ups and downs,” Watson told NBC12. “I had to learn how to eat, speak and breath on my own.”
During his time in the hospital, Watson had to stream his high school graduation while in bed.
“Not being able to graduate physically was hard for me to deal with, but being able to still attend virtually is what made things a lot easier,” he said.
Over the last seven years, Watson has been working to regain his mobility and independence while working towards another goal to continue his education.
“After going through the things that I have experienced, I’ve been focused,” Watson said.
A path that led Watson to enroll at Reynolds Community College to help him further his future in social work.
“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,” he said.
Watson is ready to graduate with an associate degree in pre-social work and is achieving another milestone by walking across the stage at the Siegel Center for his graduation with help from a robotic exoskeleton and therapists from the Sheltering Arms Institute.
For the last two weeks, Watson has been practicing his walk in the cutting-edge technology, a moment that has meant the world to him.
“I did this for God, myself, friends, my family. I mean if people only knew how I got to this point,” said Watson.
A moment Watson said shows “anything is possible.”
“In life, you’re going to experience ups and downs,” said Watson. “We just have to keep going.”
After graduation, Watson plans to transfer to VCU to earn his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work.
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