Legally blind man beats the odds, graduates from LSU

Published: Aug. 16, 2021 at 7:50 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Matthew Smith has beaten the odds, accomplishing a major milestone of graduating from Louisiana State University all while bravely facing the challenges that come along with being legally blind. His mother, Wendy Johnson says she could not be more proud to see her son make the most of his situation and truly push forward to make his dreams a reality.

Smith, 27, walked across the stage at the PMAC on Friday, August 13 and his mother was right by his side.

“It was one of the proudest moment of my life. I was able to assist Matthew across the stage and I was so elated in that moment,” Johnson said. “It’s like everything was going in slow motion and I just could not believe it was happening.”

In December 2008, while performing on stage at a high school musical Smith, who was 17 at the time, suffered an unimaginable incident.

“His retina detached,” Johnson explained. “He had to have emergency surgery and everything. From that moment on, he had to learn to live life without his eyesight.”

Smith attended the Baton Rouge School for the Visually Impaired for his junior and senior year of school where he received his high school diploma. Friday, everything came full circle when Smith was able to check off another box by walking across the stage and earning his bachelor’s degree in Political Science with a minor in Leadership Development from LSU.

“Oh, it was a surreal moment and we could not stop smiling,” Johnson added.

Smith’s goal is to become a lawyer and his mother says she will fully support him no matter how big and bold his dreams become.

“He went to the University of Louisina Lafayette and got an Associate’s Degree and he now lives on his own. He also plans to get into the Southern University Law Center to further his education and hopefully become a lawyer,” Johnson said.

Smith was also active on campus while at LSU. While his mom lives in Hammond, he lives on his own in Baton Rouge and also served as the president of the Iota Tau chapter of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. at LSU.

“I know Matt’s future is bright and we could not be more proud of what he’s already accomplished and where his journey will take him next,” Thomas added.

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