Nonverbal Student Nicknamed 'Baby Obama' Drops The Mic After Delivering Resilient Graduation Speech
Ahmed Ali wowed the crowd at the graduation ceremony for the Minneapolis Public School system’s Transition Plus Program.
It may be easy to get lost in the dozens of graduation speeches floating around social media right now, but this Minnesota teen's graduation speech may hold the crown for the most inspiring address of the year.
Ahmed Ali has cerebral palsy and is nonverbal but managed to bring the house down after giving a heartfelt speech at the graduation ceremony for the Minneapolis Public School system’s Transition Plus Program.
“Your life is a relay race, the track is your life. Every time you achieve something, you pass the baton to the next person. Guess who you are passing the baton to? It’s you," Ali told the crowd on June 9.
“I thank you from the bottom of my heart for giving me a voice I could use. It impacted me to make a difference in my life and the lives of people looking up to me.”
Ali managed to give the speech with the help of an augmentative communication device called an Accent 1000. Videos of Ali's beaming smile and humorous speech quickly amassed thousands of views online and delighted millions who were inspired by his ability to persevere.
"It looks like a normal phone keyboard," he told Good Morning America last week.
"I can type my messages on the keyboard and it will speak for me. Unfortunately, I take a few seconds to type my message. Which means that people need to have a little bit of patience with me. Since I got it, each year I’m getting better and better to communicating to people."
The 21-year-old was graduating from the Transition Plus Program, which helps disabled students move from high school to adulthood and aims to prepare them for living and working on their own.
Ali drew roaring laughter from the crowd when he rattled off his many nicknames, which include "Smiles," "Hollywood" and "Baby Obama." In reference to his last nickname, he dropped an inflatable microphone at the end of his speech.
Graduation week is always memorable, but the speech from Ahmed at the @MPS_TPLUS graduation was especially so! Ahmed delivered his speech using assistive technology and is an example of just how much our students can achieve when they receive the right supports. Congrats, Ahmed! pic.twitter.com/aMLbCWHA9K— Ed Graff (@SuptGraff) June 7, 2019
“He always has a smile on his face and a positive attitude. Two years prior, he helped out with the graduation video. So when it came to having student speakers this year, the graduation committee thought of Ahmed as a great example of what we embody here,” Transitions Plus principal Jason Backes told Yahoo Lifestyle.
“This is helping to break stereotypes about a person with disabilities. And that’s one of the things that Ahmed is excited about. People are seeing that those with disabilities, who are Muslim, or of color can be valued.”
Backes said Ali was an integral part of the program and that it would not be the same without him. Ali made sure to remind the graduates during his speech that their whole life was ahead of them and that they could achieve anything in spite of the challenges they may face.
“Each stage of your life, you are passing it to a new you,” he said during his speech.
“It’s not the end of the line for you, but it’s a new you in our beautiful world.”