Following accident, grad walks across stage to get diploma

Published: Jun. 10, 2017 at 7:21 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 12, 2017 at 8:42 AM EDT
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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A local college grad is accomplishing more than just a degree, walking across the stage after doctors told him he would never walk again.

Adam Shelton started working on a loading dock as he raised his young son. But in 2011, his life changed in an instant when his car flipped eight times.

It nearly took his life, and left him practically paralyzed.

"After the accident, they told me I'd never walk again. My rebel side came out and I said, 'I'll show you.' I had a body cast, my leg was broken in a few places," said Shelton.

He was ejected from the vehicle, left with three broken vertebra, a broken leg, six broken ribs, a fractured sternum, and a collapsed lung.

He found himself unable to walk, and unable to return to the physically demanding job.

He remained determined, beginning rehab and taking the next few years to learn how to walk again. Once that was accomplished, he set his sights higher; enrolling in the Cyber and Network Security program at ECPI University.

On Saturday, he walked across the stage to receive his diploma.

"It's going to get me back on my feet, instead of living paycheck to paycheck," he said following the ceremony.

His driving factor is his young son. Gavin is entering into the seventh grade this fall and would spend nights studying with his dad. The two joke that Gavin is his math tutor, and he hopes to get into software development and computer programming.

"Part of this is to teach him you can do anything you put your mind to. It doesn't matter what people say, its mind over matter," said Shelton as he donned his cap and gown, diploma in hand.

Looking back, he sees the silver lining from his accident.

"It's led me to a better place," he said.

The former football player is now trading brawn for brain, with a job offer already in the works.

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