WELLESLEY -- Within a sea of inspiring stories at the MassBay Community College commencement Thursday, one stellar student literally stands out.
Nathan Persampieri left his walker behind, proudly crossing the stage for the unforgettable moment of receiving his diploma.
Nathan lives with a rare neurological diagnosis: Spinocerebellar ataxia type 29. He described himself in high school as invisible. Now he earned his degree, and leaves with so much more than that.
"I didn't know really whether I was going to succeed in college or whether college would be the right fit for me. But it's been the total opposite. MassBay has been a great place for me," the new grad said proudly.
"He has been given such a strong sense of foundation and support here at this college, and really frankly, has made friends for the very first time," said his mother Betsy Harper, proudly standing with dad Dave Persampieri.
The achievement alone was not enough for Nathan. He wants to extend a hand and help others after him. Instead of birthday gifts this week, he asked for donations - and created a scholarship for future students who live and learn with disabilities. You too can support those students by donating to the scholarship in Nathan's name.
"People with disabilities should have the same opportunities as anyone else. I'm really a passionate advocate for that population," he said.
This fall, he's off to Merrimack College to study social justice. Nathan's advocacy is only just beginning.
"Everyone has challenges. Everyone has a unique story tell."
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