Before meeting school mentor Michael 'Butch' Ryan, former Dubbo College student Marcello Davis was enduring a never-ending battle to overcome his social struggles.
Mr Davis was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) when he was in year seven, and found even the simple things, like making eye contact with someone, extremely difficult.
Now, at 18 years old, Mr Davis is packing his bags and will be heading to the University of Wollongong to study communications and media in 2020.
Mr Davis is passionate about film making, a trait he shares with his mother, and hopes to pursue that in the future. According to Mr Davis, he wouldn't be where he is now without having met Butch.
"Before meeting Butch I found it hard even holding eye contact with someone, simple things like that which people take for granted. Mr Ryan aided Mr Davis through high school until he graduated year 12 in 2019.
"I use to have emotional outbursts. I felt overwhelmed all the time. People with ASD are extremely smart. Some of the greatest minds in history have ASD. However, when put in social settings, it's extremely hard for someone with ASD to operate.
"Butch guided me, he taught me how to cope in social settings.I definitely wouldn't have achieved what I have today without him. He really impacted my life. Meeting him helped kick start where I am today and knowing him has taught me so much, I honestly can't imagine my life without him."
Mr Ryan and Mr Davis are still friends and keep in touch regularly. Mr Ryan DJ's at the Amaroo on weekends, and even though it's hard for Mr Davis due to having hypersensitive hearing- sometimes he will visit him there.
"If there's one person who's still stuck in the 80s it's Butch. Some of the fondest memories I have of him is the outfits he'd wear to the costume days at school.
"He'd go all out and he'd always win best-dressed teacher. Another time, there was an event called dancing with the staff, he organised a group to dance with him. During the dance, he got down and started doing the helicopter- a breakdance move.
"But it's the little things I remember too, like the conversations we had. I'm extremely lucky to have such supportive people around me like my parents and Butch."
Mr Davis said if he could tell his younger self anything, it would be "to surround yourself with good people."
"I've learnt that life isn't about the end point, or the journey, it's about who you surround yourself with."