SEATTLE – Zak Meyer graduated at the top of his class Tuesday night, but his scholarly accomplishments barely begin to tell his story.
At age one, Meyer was diagnosed with a spinal tumor. He underwent multiple surgeries and chemotherapy which led to him needing a walker or wheelchair at times to get around. When he entered high school, he had pushed himself in therapy and rehab until he reached the point where he was able to walk unaided. He also pursued wheelchair basketball and reached the rank of Eagle Scout.
However, 2011 brought a setback. The tumor resurfaced and he needed another surgery.
"We think that taking out that tumor could have destabilized my spine," said Meyer.
Soon after, Meyer injured his already fragile spine. In a matter of days, he was unable to move from the waist down.
"I lost all motor control and that is when I became paralyzed," said Meyer.
In the middle of his Junior year, Meyer returned to Center School in Seattle. He resumed his full course load, and managed a 3.95 grade point average. As a Senior, he juggled two Advanced Placement Courses and seven 2-hour sessions of therapy and acupuncture each week.
"I’ve worked hard my entire life. I am not going to let this stop me," said Meyer.
He plans to undergo intensive therapy for his spine this Summer. He hopes to attend University of Arizona in the Fall.