RUSSELLVILLE, AR – A student in Russellville is celebrating hard work paid off after being accepted to Arkansas Tech University.

In the Russellville High School Library, senior Dylan Freeman browses the shelves in his favorite section.

“It’s one thing to know about history, but to teach other people about it, I think that’s better,” Freeman said.

As he flips through the pages of history, Freeman is writing the next chapter of his story.

It’s a special time of the year for seniors; college acceptance letters start rolling in and decisions about the future are made.

“Just seeing those words that I’m not a part of the ATU family, it really made me happy,” Freeman said.

For Dylan, the word “yes” meant a little more than four years of hard work, but a lifetime of challenges overcome.

“I can’t pinpoint exactly when I started noticing, I was probably 10 years old,” Freeman said.

Freeman was diagnosed with autism at 3 years old and was non-verbal until about 6.

The challenges he faced in the years after wouldn’t stop him from finishing his story.

“You know all those years of being in school, overcoming the many challenges of autism, and knowing that so many people have helped me, it’s really, I appreciate it,” Freeman said.

Now college bound, Freeman’s teachers hope he will be a voice to others.

“With Dylan and the journey, he has been on, it’s something extra special,” Russellville High School social studies teacher Paul Gray said.

“I think it shows they can do whatever they want. If they have a goal they can reach it,” said Brittany Turner with Russellville’s student support services.

Dylan though, he is hoping to target one specific reader, his younger brother Gabe who also has special needs.

“I love that kid, man,” Freeman said. “I want him to see that his older brother is a successful plan who’s not afraid to follow after his dreams and advocate for himself.”

Dylan will attend ATU in the fall and will be studying to become a history teacher.