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Graduate with Down syndrome makes history at Washington state college

Dylan Kuehl became the first graduate of The Evergreen State College to be living with Down syndrome.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Throughout his entire life, Dylan Kuehl has been told that he can’t, or he shouldn’t.

“They should not be saying that to me,” said Kuehl. 

He proved his doubters wrong again on Friday when he got a bachelor’s degree from The Evergreen State College. Kuehl, 38, became the first graduate living with Down syndrome in the college’s 51-year history.

“When life gives you lemons,” said Kuehl, “make lemonade out of it.”

Kuehl received a Bachelor of Arts, with an emphasis on writing. Among his favorite classes were painting and dance.

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Prior to getting his diploma, Kuehl was one of just three students out of the almost 900 graduates chosen to give a speech at the ceremony.

”I see the greatness in all of our graduates,” said Kuehl, in the recorded message.

”I have to say. Wow. I never thought I would make it this far,” said Kuehl, “When I first started, I had people tell me I wasn’t ready for college. It discouraged me. Instead of giving up, I built a ‘Yes Team.'”

Kuehl credits his fellow students, tutors, teachers, and his mother for helping him on the journey, but said he earned the degree, mostly on his own.

He hopes his story will inspire others.

“Celebrate your abilities. Live your life with ambition and pride,” Kuehl said, "Yes, I am the very first person to graduate here, but I'm not going to be the last."

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