(WFLA) — Seven years after a shooting left 25-year-old Khalil Watson paralyzed from the neck down, he walked across the stage to accept his diploma from Reynolds Community College in Richmond, Virginia.

Motivation, determination, and help from an exoskeleton suit made the touching moment a possibility.

According to NBC afilliate WWBT, Watson was shot shortly before his senior prom and was unable to attend his high school graduation.

“It’s been a journey; it’s been lots of ups and downs,” he told the local news outlet. “I had to learn how to eat, speak and breath on my own.”

While recovering in the hospital, Watson said he had to stream his high school graduation from bed.

“Not being able to graduate physically was hard for me to deal with, but being able to still attend virtually is what made things a lot easier,” he said.

On May 15, Watson’s hard work paid off when he took the stage and the room by storm, collecting his associate’s degree from Reynolds.

Video filmed by the community college shows Watson walking across the stage with the help of the exoskeleton and an aide as he received a standing ovation from peers and others in the audience.

The powered exoskeleton was made by Ekso Bionics and lent to Watson by the Sheltering Arms Institute, a rehabilitation center in Richmond where Watson received therapy.

Watson plants to attend Virginia Commonwealth University in the fall to pursue a bachelor’s and, eventually, a master’s degree in social work.

“I did this for God, myself, friends, my family,” Watson said. “I mean if people only knew how I got to this point.”

“Anything is possible,” he added.