LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- For lots of high school seniors, what to do after high school is a question they can't quite answer. But Fairdale High School student Zach Smith knew the very first day he stepped on to campus.
"I saw that they had heavy equipment class, and I was like, 'ooh I want to do that'," said Smith.
He's spent the last four years behind the wheel of heavy machinery just like his dad. "My dad was in heavy equipment and he built houses," said Smith.
For him, it's a way to follow in his dad's footsteps and honor his memory. "My parents died September 28th of 2014," Smith said.
His mom and dad were killed in a drunk driving accident when Zach was just 13. "I became depressed at a young age and I didn't want anything to do with anything," he said.
After that, Zach bounced around to different homes and went to three different schools during his eighth grade year alone. He had every excuse to quit, but the thought of his little sister kept him from making the wrong choices. "She had to have someone to look up to, and I wanted that person to be me," he said.
The career ready programs at Fairdale put Zach on that right path with the chance to study heavy equipment sciences and get his CDL.
"The neat thing about Zach is you wouldn't know about it talking to him. He comes to school every day and he does his best, works hard no matter what's going on in his personal life," said Fairdale Assistant Principal Nick Chlon.
Once Zach gets his diploma, he'll be ready to enter the workforce. He hopes to work in construction or train as an electrician, jobs that will pay off.
"I could have a good job after high school that will pay more money than what is usually made," said Zach.
That means a lot for a kid who wasn't sure what his future would hold.
"I was actually scared I wasn't going to graduate, because when my parents died I didn't want to do anything."
But he's getting his diploma, and he's proud of all he's accomplished. "I am absolutely proud of myself," Smith said.
And he's confident his parents would be proud too.
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