This was originally published on nbclosangeles.com.
By Sanika Bhargaw
A 25-year-old U.S. Army veteran was honored at a celebration in West Hills on Sunday, where he was named Penn Foster College's 2016 Graduate of the Year.
Omar Haughton was deployed in Afghanistan in 2012, where he sustained a traumatic brain injury after being hit by an IED. During his nearly two-year rehabilitation, he earned a degree in Criminal Justice from Penn Foster College.
A father, Haughton said he dedicates this degree to his daughter.
"When she grows older, I want her to be proud that her father is a degree holder and be empowered to go to college herself if she chooses,” Haughton said in a news release.
Now, Haughton works with Passport to Learning, which helps individuals with special needs. Haughton works specifically with mentally disabled individuals who have been incarcerated and teaches them how to reintegrate into their communities.
Haughton goes with them to their court proceedings and works with them on anger management, recidivism prevention and drug abuse rehabilitation.
"I have the opportunity to change lives for the better," Haughton said.
Mark Slayton, Penn Foster's Senior Vice President, said he is proud to honor Haughton as Graduate of the Year.
"He is bright, motivated, determined, disciplined and has taken a challenging situation and completely turned it to his advantage," Slayton said. "Omar first served his country, and now he serves others."
At Sunday's celebration, Slayton presented Haughton with a certificate and spoke about Haughton's accomplishments.
Haughton's family and other supporters also attended.