Shaela Warkentin graduates from Bullard High School

FRESNO, Calif.

/*Shaela Warkentin*/ has been preparing herself for this day her entire life.

"I'm just really excited to move on and start a new chapter in my life," said Shaela.

But now that's finally here it marks an even bigger achievement.

Two years ago, the Bullard High School senior and her sister were stopped at a stop light on their way home from church, when the driver of a pickup slammed into the back of their Mustang.

The impact sent Shaela crashing through the back window, crushing her eyes and leaving metal and glass fragments in her skull. The driver was arrested for DUI, but Shaela was critically injured and left blind.

Shaela's mother, Lisa Warkentin said, "We were told due to her brain injury, she would have to learn how to walk, learn how to eat."

Shaela surprised everyone when she returned to school just six months later. The dedicated student worked closely with a specially trained instructor to record her classes on audio tape, and to learn how to read and write in braille.

Shaela's father, Ken Warkentin said, "I'm incredibly proud of her and to be there to help her push on and to reach for the stars and to never give up, never quit, never say never."

Tuesday afternoon, Principal Brian Beck recognized Shaela's accomplishments with a special surprise, and thanked her for being an inspiration to her classmates.

"Shaela is a symbol of survival. She's a symbol of resiliency and she's a symbol of what this class is all about," said Beck. "They accept their peers, they help them through the tough times."

They even helped Shaela across the stage to accept her diploma. Shaela now promises to give back to her community.

Shaela explained, "I want to be a psychologist, I want to help children."

And she plans to pursue a doctorate at Fresno State.

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