LI teen with cerebral palsy, autism graduates as salutatorian, plans for Ph.D. program

Sean Andrade, a 15-year-old high school senior with cerebral palsy and autism, has achieved remarkable academic success despite his disabilities. 

He was able to read before he could walk and skipped fourth grade. By seventh grade, he was ready to skip another grade and go straight to ninth.

Now the salutatorian of his class at Sewanhaka High School, he is still too young to drive or vote but will graduate this spring and be one of the youngest freshmen on a college campus.

While his GPA definitely reflects an A+ student, his mom, Kelly says she’s proud of his academics but also of the person her son has become.

"If you’re determined to do something you can make it happen," she said.

Sean will be giving a speech at his graduation. He has already been accepted to Stony Brook University, where he’s hoping to get a full scholarship to the same STEM program that would support his work toward earning a Ph.D.

"Sean is a once-in-a-lifetime or once-in-a-career type student," said principal Nichole Allen.

"He just seemed to have like a strong sense of academic balance and talent and he did wonderful," said school counselor Vincent Brazill.

Sean also loves robotics, was part of the winning alliance team for the Long Island robotics championship, and he wants people to know just how happy he is.

"I know the facial expression because of the autism, it’s like you may not be able to see it as well, but when I’m focused, I’m the happiest person that I can see myself being," he said.

While he will be terribly missed by teachers, Sean is just getting started.

"I’m proud of these accomplishments sure but there’s so much more that I want to do and so I don’t want to stop," he added.