James Santos was used as a human shield by a gunman during the Dawson College shooting on Sept. 13, 2006.
Now, more than a decade later, Santos has graduated from the École nationale de police du Québec.
According to the police academy in Nicolet, Que., 71 people received their diplomas in the school’s 178th graduation ceremony Friday.
Santos was given a special award of excellence.
The honour is given by instructors to a student who, among other criteria, shows perseverance and engagement.
At the time of the shooting, Santos was a teenager studying social science, and had a feeling he wanted to become a police officer.
WATCH BELOW: In this extended interview, James Santos talks about graduating from the police academy and the impact the shooting had on his life.
After he saw how police reacted to the shooting, he was left in no doubt about his path.
“I saw how they worked, how efficient they were,” Santos said. “After that day, I told myself that I would not stop trying until I became a police officer.”
Santos says he dreams of working for the Montreal police.
He believes the experience he now has makes him more ready for the job than ever before.
James Santos, a survivor of the Dawson College shooting in 2006, graduates, Friday, Feb. 24, 2017.
On Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2006, a young man starting shooting outside the de Maisonneuve Boulevard entrance to the school, injuring six people.
He then stormed the campus and opened fire, killing one and injuring many others as chaos erupted in the main atrium.
WATCH BELOW: One decade after the Dawson Shooting
The victim, Anastasia De Sousa, was sitting in the cafeteria with friends when she and three other students were hit.
The shooter asked Santos, whom he had taken hostage, if Anastasia was still alive.
Santos told him he didn’t know and begged for her to leave the school to be treated.
The shooter then asked another male student if Anastasia was dead and was told he didn’t know.
WATCH: James Santos recounts how he tried to help his friend, Anastasia De Sousa, before being taken hostage by the gunman. Mike Armstrong reports.
He then riddled her body with bullets.
“Now she’s dead,” he said, according to a coroner’s report into the tragedy.
About 20 others were wounded before he turned the gun on himself.