This ceremony is not just a celebration of academic achievement, for 17-year-old William Wylie-Modro, this walk marks a milestone in an extraordinary medical journey. The high school senior was born with a congenital heart defect that sent him to the hospital in April.
"I'd say within two weeks I would have been on like life support machine. I'd say within... probably last week I would have been dead," said Wylie-Modro.
In May, a donor heart saved William's life, but just six days after that risky operation doctors at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford also had to perform brain surgery to remove an unexpected blood clot. Now, just weeks later, William's parents are in the front row as he receives his high school diploma.
"It's just amazing to be able to stand here today watching William graduate today, we never ever thought it would be possible," said Sheron Wylie-Modro, William's mother.
In overcoming the odds, William also managed to graduate near the top of his class and receive two college scholarships in his quest to become an aerospace engineer.
"In some ways, I could have said two pages instead of five, but William wouldn't do that. He really wanted to do the exact curriculum that his peers at Gunn High School were doing," said Thayer Gershon, a hospital school teacher.
Because of his recovery, William won't be able to at tend UC San Diego until next fall so true to his character he'll be coming back here to the hospital school as a peer tutor.
That volunteer work is just one way William is already paying it forward. His graduation wish is that more people would become organ donors.
"It saved my life. I am living, breathing, beating, proof that if you check that box you save lives," said William.
At this hospital graduation, the applause is both for the message and the young man with a strong heart delivering it.