Non-verbal grad gives groundbreaking graduation speech

It brought down the house.

Non-verbal grad gives groundbreaking graduation speech
Minneapolis Public Schools
Video byZoe Moore
June 20, 2019, 2:30 PM

Graduation speeches are often inspirational and moving, but one in particular might take the top spot for the class of 2019.

Ahmed Ali is nonverbal and he gave a graduation speech that brought down the house.

Ali graduated from the Transition Plus program in Minneapolis Public Schools on June 9 at the Minneapolis Convention Center. Transition Plus is a program for students with disabilities ages 18 to 21 years old. All students have already completed four years of high school, but the program helps build independence in three areas: employment, post-secondary education options and training, and independent living.

"I was honestly shocked that they chose me," Ali told "Good Morning America" about being chosen to give a speech. "Moreover I felt like I was the luckiest man in the whole world and I was honored to have a huge responsibility to represent the lives of people looking up to me."

School principal Jason Backes told "GMA" that Ahmed was selected "because of his strong leadership and support he has given to the graduation committee over the years. Ahmed has been increasing his public speaking and had asked for additional opportunities to speak in front of groups -- this was a logical choice for the group."

Ali uses a device called an Accent 1000, and also used it for his speech.

"It looks like a normal phone keyboard," he said. "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."

Backes called Ahmend "an amazing contributing member of Transition Plus. He always provides a smile and greets students and staff whenever he sees them."

In fact, Ahmed has two nicknames: Smiles and Hollywood. Smiles came from his natural disposition. Hollywood started in elementary school.

"I loved wearing sun glasses everyday and dressed up like I’m in Los Angeles. One day, one of my support stuff decided to named me Hollywood," he said.

As for what's next, Ali is ready to give more speeches. He also wants to go to college.

"It will be hard to image what T Plus will be like without him there next year," Backes said.