Samuel Petro told his grandmother he was going to win the 21st Century Scholarship.
That was in fourth grade.
On Saturday, he sat prepared in his cap and gown among 447 of his fellow graduates knowing he made his dream come true.
In the fall, he will attend Indiana State University to study special education and counseling.
His tuition will be covered through the 21st Century Scholars Program, as well as several other private scholarships he earned.
“We are so proud of Sam,” said his mother, Renee Petro. “He has worked so hard to achieve his goals.”
The journey was not easy for Samuel Petro. He was diagnosed with apraxia when he was young, which made it difficult to write papers, read and speak.
Renee Petro said it would have been easier for her son to give up.
“But when he sets his mind to do something, he does it,” she said. “He’s kind of hardheaded.”
Samuel Petro said he persisted even when teachers gave up on him.
“It’s my fighting spirit,” he said, academic honors diploma in hand. “I’m letting people know I’m not just some kid that needs help. I’m going to make you eat those words if you think that.”
Others in the Class of 2014 have not always been so sure of their future.
When Krishan Narsinghani first came to Columbus North High School, he was one of the smallest boys in the school — he thought he would be shoved in a locker.
But he went on to become involved in clubs and extracurricular activities.
And at his commencement ceremony, he stood tall in front of his classmates as he welcomed them and guided them in changing their tassels.
Narsinghani slipped in a lyric from the rapper Drake, evoking laughter from the Class of 2014: “Started from the bottom, now we’re here.”