La'Quisha Pompey was paralyzed by stray bullets from a hired gunman in August 2006.
The bullets may have slowed her body, but friends and family say it didn't dent her determination.
On Saturday, Pompey was given an award for perseverance at the Stop the Violence Coalition's third annual awards banquet, held at the New Golden Nugget.
Pompey graduated with her senior class at McKinley High School. Today she's a sophomore at Daemen College, where she majors in early childhood education, and made the dean's list last semester.
"I have seen her fight for her life, and now I have seen her fight for her future," said the Rev. Darius G. Pridgen, senior pastor of True Bethel Baptist Church, and the event's keynote speaker. "She has been a great example to other young people and adults who have been through a lot of tragedies."
Pompey, 20, said her spirituality and outlook have changed for the better in recent years.
"Everything I do in life, I do positively. If you look [out at the world] negatively, you won't be able to accomplish anything at all. In a way, I didn't care before," Pompey said.
She has been active at Faith Temple Church of the Living God, serving as an usher and youth leader, and she said the shooting only strengthened her belief in God.
Pompey expressed gratitude over receiving the Stop the Violence award, and offered advice:
"It's not necessary to use violence; you can use words. Maybe we can stop the shooting, and make it a better world."
Shantia Lewis said her older sister's hard work has paid off, and inspired others around her.
Also honored were Randy Sargent as humanitarian of the year; Jori Harrell, educator of the year; David and Mary Ann Voorhees, citizens of the year; Pridgen, clergyman of the year; Evyonne Mack, parent of the year; Buffalo Urban League, community outreach of the year; Gerard Place, family preservation of the year; and Back to Basics Ministries, family preservation of the year; Cricket Wireless, corporation of the year; and Steve's Meats, small business of the year.