Unable to communicate at the age of 3, Montel Medley was diagnosed with autism.
With support from his mother, Roberta, and his teachers in Prince George’s County, Montel went on to earn a 4.0 grade point average at Surrattsville High School, graduated at the top of his class and gained acceptance to Towson University.
“Having a disability doesn’t mean you have a disadvantage,” Montel said during his valedictory speech. “Sometimes it can be an advantage.”
Here is the full speech Montel gave as valedictorian of Surrattsville High:
Good Morning distinguished guests, faculty, staff, family, friends and most importantly, CLASS OF 2014!! I am Montel Medley and I am proud to be your valedictorian. My fellow classmates, we finally made it, so give yourself a round of applause.
We had a lot of distractions, but we managed to deal with them. As we graduate from high school, we know it is a new chapter because we get to step into the world, no more living inside a vacuum with our parents. We must leave our comfort zone and step into the light!
Going to high school was a serious transition for me. But each year, I became more mature and disciplined. In my freshman year, I was a bit nervous. You see, in middle school, I didn’t make a lot of friends because I had autism. Autism made it hard for me to interact with others, so I isolated myself.