Eric Duquette didn’t utter his first word until age 5, but this week the teen with autism graduated as the salutatorian of his high school class.

As a child, Duquette’s parents were told he would likely need to be institutionalized. But instead, early intervention paid off and this week Duquette graduated from a Smithfield, Rhode Island high school with the second-highest grade point average of anyone in his class of 199.

The teen who admits his autism leaves him flustered by the attention he’s received for his success says academics come easily because he enjoys learning.

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Now, Duquette is headed to Rhode Island College in the fall to study pharmacy.

“Eric’s just come so far, we couldn’t have hoped for where we are today,” Duquette’s mom told WPRI, the Providence, Rhode Island CBS affiliate.