Four years ago, Austin Whitney, then 18, lost control of his car while drunk driving and crashed into a tree, instantly severing his spinal cord and paralyzing himself from the waist down. Though an accident so devastating might have found most of us sulking for years, if not forever, Whitney started attending college just 10 days after he left the hospital. Last month, he graduated from UC Berkeley with a political science and history double major.
The even more inspiring kicker to this story is that, with the help of Berkeley mechanical engineering professor Homayoon Kazerooni, Whitney was able to walk across the stage to accept his degree. Kazerooni led a team that designed and built a robot exoskeleton that enabled Whitney to stand and walk. He moved slowly, of course, but it was the first time he'd stood in more than four years.
See Whitney's historic moment, and find out how his exoskeleton works, in the video below. You can also find out more about Whitney and his new life on his website.