RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Four years after he was shot in the neck and paralyzed when someone fired into a crowd, a Raleigh man is about to celebrate a major accomplishment. He will graduate this weekend from St. Augustine’s University.

Howard Boone never imagined life as a college student like this.

Assignments, emails and research papers, dictated painstakingly into the phone attached to the bed where he lies paralyzed from the neck down. He depends on a ventilator to breathe.

“I lost feeling… like, I lost everything. Everything I worked for just went away,” Boone said.

Once a member of the Army Reserves, Boone jumped from planes and planned on rising through the ranks of the military.

Then, during a 2018 trip to South Carolina, someone started shooting into a crowd. Boone, an innocent bystander was hit in the neck.

In the years confined to his bed, he has found ways to cope and found he was a talent for writing poetry.

Many of his poems tackle the issue of gun violence.

“I just started writing what was on my mind,” Boone said. “It was almost like therapy.”

While his dreams for a military career are no longer possible, he’s not giving up on his future.

“I don’t think I ever started anything that I didn’t finish,” he said.

That’s why he fought through frustration, to make it to the end of his senior year at St. Augustine’s. Howard will graduate this weekend with a degree in criminal justice.

He’s still determining his next steps after graduation and may work in his field of criminal justice, or might pursue work with a nonprofit. He said he also hopes to publish his poetry.