SCHUYLKILL HAVEN, Pa. -- On commencement day at Schuylkill Haven Area High School, students filed onto the football field at Rotary Stadium as their proud families watched from the stands.
But many eyes turned to the commencement speaker, Madison Ferris, who is a 2010 graduate of Schuylkill Haven.
Ferris says she also just happens to be the first wheelchair-using actress to star on Broadway.
"I’m very proud of her,” said valedictorian Lynzi Garvery. "I think that her story is incredible and it just gives us something to mentor for us, to something to hold us to, to keep pushing forward.”
"I think it’s awesome, I think everything she does, she deserves it,” said graduate Dawson Evitts.
Ferris has muscular dystrophy and is unable to walk.
But that didn’t stop her from pursuing her dream of acting.
Taking a leap of faith, she auditioned for a role in the play “The Glass Menagerie” and got it, playing opposite legendary superstar Sally Field last year.
“She’s amazing. She’s really just one of the nicest people I’ve ever met and she’s so smart and she’s so dedicated to the work that she does. It was just like taking an acting class,” said Ferris.
Despite the fact that Ferris performed before thousands while on Broadway, she says having to give this commencement address at her old high school is a bit intimidating.
"I care a lot about my hometown and I want the kids, well, graduates, they’re adults now, I want the adults to do well,” said Ferris.
Many of these graduates say as they take their next step toward their futures, seeing Ferris is setting goals for them.
“Just graduating school, that we could go out and we could do the same things that she’s doing, succeed on our own and our own paths and still be successful with it,” said salutatorian Lily Stoyer.
Ferris continues to live in New York, setting her own goals for herself.