Graduate Who Uses Wheelchair Walks Across Stage to Receive His Degree

He received two degrees.

It was an inspiring sight as a graduate at the University of South Florida stepped out of his wheelchair and walked on stage to accept two masters’ degrees Saturday.

Sam Bridgman, 25, has Friedreich’s ataxia (FA), which leaves him reliant on a wheelchair, but he had no intention of letting his condition stop him.

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Met by cheers as he stood alongside his trainers, Bridgman happily accepted his degrees.

"It’s a great feeling to have two degrees and have a job," Bridgman told

Bridgman received his MBA and his master's in sports and entertainment management.

He has always been into sports, but when he was diagnosed with FA at the age of 15, he realized he wouldn’t be able to participate.

“I’ve always wanted to work in sports," Bridgman said. "I think like any kid growing up, I wanted to be a professional athlete.  And when I got diagnosed with FA at the age of 15, I realized I wasn’t going to be able to be a professional athlete. So I thought the next best thing would be to have a career in sports."

Bridgman said he’s made the best of his illness.

“No one likes to find out that they have a progressive neuromuscular disease that could cause many symptoms and could make it so life is not very enjoyable," said Bridgman. "But I try to make the best of things and enjoy life to the best way I can."

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The graduate also walked across the stage when he received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Portland so this was another proud moment for him.

“I actually noticed a standing ovation this time," Bridgman said. "It was pretty cool. It definitely brought it full circle right there."

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