Paraplegic Student Walks at College Graduation

Paraplegic Student Walks at College Graduation

Austin Whitney did something extraordinary at his graduation. He may be a paraplegic, but he walked to accept his diploma…on his own two feet!

Whitney's spine was severed four years ago in a drunk-driving accident. "I went around a curb too fast and wrapped my car around a tree," he tells INSIDE EDITION.   

Before enrolling at the University of California at Berkeley, Austin resigned himself to life in a wheelchair. But while there, Mechanical Engineering Professor Ho-Ma-Yoon Kazerooni made him a remarkable offer.

The professor and a team of graduate students developed a device called an "exoskeleton" that would allow Austin to walk. Through computerization and hand controls, Austin is now able to rise to his feet and take steps.  

"I certainly would have said this would have been impossible at the time of my accident," Austin said, "no one would have predicted this in a million years."   

When Austin walked across the stage, he received more than his diploma: the crowd, thunderous and emotional, gave him a well-deserved standing ovation.