‘I had to do it’: Man on autism spectrum disorder graduates from SCSU after 14 years

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Everyone’s path to a degree is different, and for Charles Vaughn, that journey took 14 years.

Vaughn is on the autism spectrum disorder, and after working closely with faculty and staff at Southern Connecticut State University (SCSU), he finally received his bachelor’s degree in a special graduation ceremony on Monday.

“Seeing him succeed is the most important gift we could receive,” said his mother, Laurajean Vaughn.

Vaughn was determined to earn his degree no matter how long it took, taking one or two classes every semester. Now after 14 years, his hard work is being celebrated.

Vaughn was motivated from within — not graduating was never an option. 

“I knew I had to do it,” he said. “I knew I had to keep going and do this.”

His parents hope his accomplishment sends a larger message to the community.

“I would really hope that the community at large would be willing to give students with autism an opportunity to work,” said Vaughn. “They have a lot to contribute. They may not be socially able as their peers but they work very hard, they focus, they have a lot to contribute.”

Now that he’s graduated with a bachelor’s degree in general studies, he hopes to get a part-time job in an office working with computers.

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