Seventeen-year-old Montel Medley will join Towson University’s incoming class of 2018, reports the Washington Post.
The valedictorian of his class graduated from Surrattsville High School in Prince George’s County with a perfect GPA and plans to study applied mathematics at Towson, where he begins as a freshman this fall.
His story is already impressive. Even more inspiring is that Medley has an autism spectrum disorder.
From the Post story:
Roberta Medley, Montel’s mother, said her son was diagnosed with autism when he was 3. She noticed that Montel would rarely look at her when she interacted with him. While other children were talking at his age, Montel’s vocabulary was limited to one word: truck.
Through special education classes and classroom aides, Medley was slowly but surely able to develop his communication skills.
Aisha Clark, the coordinator of the autism program at Surrattsville, said Montel matured during his four years in high school and grew not only to accept his autism, but to embrace it.
“When he came in the ninth grade, he was like the others in the program — they didn’t want to tell anyone they had autism,” Clark said. “By 12th grade, it was the first thing he told people. It was not a setback at all. He would even explain it to people. He’d say, ‘I think differently.’ ”
That much was evident in his valedictory address when he told his fellow graduates that “having a disability doesn’t mean you have a disadvantage. Sometimes it can be an advantage.”
Medley next looks to bring that drive to Towson, where he will begin a challenging major program.
“We are excited about having Montel here at Towson University,” says David Vanko, dean of the Jess and Mildred Fisher College of Science and Mathematics.
“We are already impressed with this young man because of his strong academic performance, which resulted in him being selected as his high school class valedictorian. I personally look forward to meeting him. We are committed to doing everything we can to ensure that Montel has a successful Towson University experience, both academically and socially.”
As for Medley, his college plan is simple.
Montel said he plans to follow the same rules that he used at Surrattsville: “I followed directions, I paid attention to my teachers, and I did the work. And I’m planning to do well in college, too.”
Read the full Washington Post story here.