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Jared Hargrave, Deseret News
Amanda Peterson graduated from Provo High School Thursday, May 25, 2012. It's a feat that no one thought she could accomplish after she was severely shaken as a baby. Doctors had told her mother that Amanda would never lead a normal life. She proved them wrong.

PROVO — Amanda Peterson is a young lady with a lot of determination.

She was 3 years old when she was hospitalized on a cold January night in 1997 with critical injuries. Doctors had told her mother she would never lead a normal life. 

Thursday night, there were 339 students who made up the class of 2012 at Provo High School's graduation. Peterson was one of them.

In 1997, Amanda endured three months in the hospital after her mother’s boyfriend abused her. The man was later captured and convicted, but Amanda will always suffer because of his crime.

At that time, doctors told Amanda’s mother, Susan Rice, that her daughter would never be able to live a normal life and possibly would never be able to walk.

"They said it was shaken baby syndrome, and they were going to put an all-points bulletin out for Casey Perkins, who hurt her," Rice said.

Amanda had been shaken so violently her brain resembled having been dropped from a six-story building. Perkins would serve eight years in prison for the abuse.

Facing temporary blindness along with physical and mental disability, Amanda persevered, easily surpassing even the brightest of expectations by doctors. On graduation night, she was no different from any other teenager.

Before the ceremony, Amanda put on her cap and her gown, and even a new shade of lipstick. Why the bright pink? Well, it's very much what you would expect in an answer from a typical 18-year-old.

"Celebrities wear it, so I want to wear it, too, because it looks pretty," Amanda said.

Like so many other moms on their child's graduation day, Rice could barely hold back the tears. "Words can't tell how happy I am," she said.

And that's really the lesson here. No one predicted Amanda would make it to this point, no one thought she could do it, but that's just fine by her. She plans to keep proving people wrong.

"I'm just so proud of the things she has done and how far she's come, and how she's never given up," Rice said.

Amanda will begin vocational training now that she's officially a high school graduate and hopes to land a job after she wraps up her next round of classwork.