Ashland HS valedictorian hopes to inspire others after graduation

ASHLAND, Ore. – Meet 18-year-old Luke Hogan Laurenson.

He will be one of 10 Ashland high school students, graduating as valedictorian in his class.

“It has been a dream of mine to be a valedictorian since my amazing sister did it five years ago, my time here has been like a time of passage,” he said.

But his journey to get here as been a long one.

At birth, Luke was diagnosed with Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy and Dysarthria, a speech and language disability.

His mom, Jane, said she fought to keep her son learning the same curriculum as his peers, despite push back.

But he didn’t let that stop him, graduating with straight A‘s through high school.

“I felt super sad during the pandemic because I did not know what my life would be like during or after the pandemic,” he said. “I feel super strong for making it through. After school I‘m going to continue fundraising to get my wheelchair accessible van.”

Luke said that van would allow him to go on a nationwide high school tour to share his story with others.

“I am going to go on the road with my mom to talk at high schools to share my story and talk about resiliency, overcoming challenges and following your dreams,” he said. “My ultimate dream is to work for Taylor Swift and I will do anything to make it happen.”

In 2017, Luke went viral after making a music video with the Ashland Fire Department dancing to Taylor Swift’s ‘Shake It Off’.

He even got to meet the pop star not long after.

He says she’s inspired him so much

Luke will speak on stage at this weekend’s graduation.

As part of the speech, he plans to share a poem he wrote in elementary school called ‘I dream.’

‘I dream about walking by myself. I dream about not having CP [cerebral palsy],” he said. “I would be jumping up and down. I dream about dancing by myself, I would love it.”

Luke even worked as a professional actor at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival when he was in eighth and ninth grade.

His mom, sister and himself are also starting a non-profit called ‘Luke’s Angels’ to raise money for differently-abled children.

You can find the link to the Go-Fund-Me for a handicapped-accessible van by clicking here.

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NBC5 News reporter Zachary Larsen grew up in Surprise, Arizona. He graduated from Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism. At ASU, Zack interned at Arizona Sports 98.7FM and Softball America. During his Junior year, Zack joined the ASU Sports Bureau. He covered the Fiesta Bowl, the Phoenix Open and major basketball tournaments. Zack enjoys working out, creative writing, music, and rooting for his ASU Sun Devils.
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