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What to Know

  • Since moving to the U.S. two years ago, Erwin Hernandez has become an honors student and worked 40-hour weeks to send money to his mother[hhmc]

  • While he was on the job at a restaurant in Stamford the day after Christmas, a car slammed into the restaurant, and Hernandez lost his leg[hhmc]

  • Months later, after getting a prosthetic leg and finishing his school year, Hernandez has gotten his diploma[hhmc]

The day has finally come for 18-year-old Erwin Hernandez.

The Stamford High School senior graduated Friday, months after losing his leg in a freak accident while working at a restaurant. The journey to his dipoloma is immeasurable.

Hernandez moved to Stamford from Guatemala when he was 16 years old, and has been an outstanding student at the high school, learning English and landing on the honor roll, all while working 40 hours a week as a bus boy to send his paychecks to his struggling family.

"It was really hard because right after I had to work," he said.

Star Student Who Lost Leg in Freak Accident Will

[NY] Star Student Who Lost Leg in Freak Accident Will

It was at work that Hernandez's life changed last December. A car slammed into the restaurant, hitting him, and he ultimately lost his right leg.

But Hernandez moved forward. He got a prosthetic leg and he set goals — like going to prom and finishing his senior year on time. He's had huge support along the way; his school threw a fundrasier and rally for him when he returned to class for the first time, and the mayor declared April 26 Erwin Hernandez Day.

And on Friday, graduation day came.

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"I am excited because this day is finally here," he said.

ESL teacher Kristi Lawson has been in awe of Hernandez's resilience.

"It is so nice to come to work every day knowing there is somebody with his strength and determination waiting," she said.

High School Teen Supporting Family Has Leg Amputated

[NY] High School Teen Supporting Family Has Leg Amputated

Hernandez said he hopes to make his mother hard: "I miss her and it's hard for her not being here."

But on his graduation cap, this written reminder: "Every step you take is one step closer to where you want to be."

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USA Today

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