Autism doesn't stop Sanderson student from excellence

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Connor Watt hasn't let autism stop him from living high school life to the fullest.

Connor Watt is getting ready to graduate from Sanderson High School on Thursday. He's leaving behind an amazing high school career.

Academically, he's graduating with an almost perfect GPA. He's a member of the JROTC, the marching band and an Eagle Scout.

Connor Watt in the JROTC.

Connor Watt has a near-perfect GPA.

Connor Watt is also an Eagle Scout.

Connor also happens to be autistic.

"Good grades, I could ask help from, like students and teachers, but my autism, that was probably the most difficult for me," said Connor. "It was very difficult for me to talk to somebody, or even try to meet someone new and get to know them. That was pretty hard for me."

Since he was little, his mom, Jane Rose Watt, knew her son didn't have to be limited. She said throughout his life whenever teachers would want to put him in a lower level class, she would refuse.

Connor Watt

"He can do it," Watt said she would tell them. And he did.

Academically, she said his teachers were always very supportive.

"If it wasn't for the support of my teachers, I probably wouldn't have been able to get to where I am now," Connor said.

Socially, his mom knew extracurricular activities would help, and they did.

"I would just tell myself, just say it to him, just talk to him, I would keep telling myself that. Pretty much helps me get over my autism," Connor said. "It has helped me get over my autism and make some new friends, and all that jazz."

Connor Watt ready for the prom.

Now he's looking forward to college life and going to UNC Pembroke in the fall.

Connor Watt plans to attend UNC Pembroke

"I'm looking forward to making a lot of new friends, getting to work hard a lot of times and basically get ready for life and live in the world, overcoming many challenges that may come my way," Connor said. "Take another step toward getting out of the gate to the real world."

And he isn't going to take it easy, he's already planning to study environmental sciences to become an aerial environmental observer. He also wants to get his pilot's license and already has a few flying lessons under his belt. He said he loves the feeling he gets when he's in the sky.

Connor Watt, left, in the cockpit.

"It really makes you feel like you're unbeatable," Connor said.

And unbeatable is what Connor is proving autism and anyone with autism not to be.

"You just got to tell yourself you can do this, you can do this and you have to keep going at it until the very end," Connor said. "Believe that you can be so much more than what you think you can be."

And for his fellow graduates walking across that stage with him Thursday, he said he wants them all to hold their head up high, be proud of what they've accomplished and what they will accomplish.

"Show the world that you can do and make it better than what the old world used to be," Connor said, "make the world a better place."

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Nineteen graduation ceremonies taking place in downtown Raleigh

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