Usually, a bachelor's degree is a 4-year path to success; for one matriculated Southern Connecticut State University student, however, the path to success was anything but typical. In fact, it was special.

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According to Southern's website, Charles Vaughn is a man worth celebrating these days, as the 35-year-old student at SCSU recently received his degree in General Studies after his 14 year-long journey to 120 credits.

Charles was only 5 and a half years old when he was diagnosed with autism. Thirty years later, he has proved to be the lifelong learner he and his parents always knew he was.

After repeating kindergarten, years of special education classes and difficulties learning in a regular classroom environment, Charles graduated Hamden's Whitney High School East, a school for students with developmental disorders, at the age of 21.

From there, he went on to go to Gateway Community College in New Haven and earned his associate's degree in 2013. A year later, Charles enrolled as a part-time student at Southern. And the rest was hard-working, persevering history.

Today, Charles is an official college graduate with his whole life ahead of him. SCSU's president Joe Bertolino commended the newsworthy student for his motivation to succeed while demonstrating the excellence of the university to embrace his needs: "...We take a great deal of pride in helping all of our students – no matter their circumstances – to achieve the success they deserve by ensuring that they’re treated with dignity, kindness, compassion, and civility."

SCSU recently held a special celebratory ceremony for Charles at which his parents, faculty, and loved ones rejoiced in his achievement.

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