BURLINGTON, N.C. -- A Burlington teenager is celebrating a lifelong dream, his high school graduation.
Andrew Hartle graduated from The Burlington School on Thursday. It's a moment that every senior looks forward to as they begin their final year of high school.
“Through all the community service and the teachers are really great. They really are the ones that have shaped me to the person I am today," Andrew said.
After a tragic swimming mishap last fall in Puerto Rico, Andrew was paralyzed and spent several months in the hospital.
“The first four to six months were really hard," said Jeremy Hartle, Andrew's dad.
Andrew worried that he wouldn't make it to his big day.
“But over time I figured out I could've kept on doing classes at the Shepherd's Center. I pursued that."
When Andrew returned home and back to The Burlington School in February, he said he worked hard.
“He just took it as his job and he did it. He's a success," said Amy Hartle, Andrew's mom.
He pushed through his final months of high school, picking up a few awards on his way out. Andrew's an inspiration to his fellow classmates, community and his parents.
“I think that he's probably taught me more than I ever taught him," Jeremy said.
Andrew's ready to take on his next step in life at Elon University, while staying close to his family.
“I definitely wouldn't have graduated or even be in the place I am today without them," Andrew said.
He plans on studying journalism in college.