From Compton to Harvard!

“It was a struggle.  It was rough,” Elijah says of his time growing up in Compton, where only a little over half of students graduate high school.  He remembers a defining moment when he was little:  “It was kind of late at night, my mom ran into my room, and they were shooting outside.  So we would lay, actually, right there, kind of looking at each other.  I was just...looking at my mom for strength ... That moment changed me forever.  I knew I would have to leave Compton.”

Elijah worked hard to achieve his goals, immersing himself in his studies, and never losing focus of his academic goals.  He was accepted to a prestigious high school, over an hour away from home, and there he excelled - using the long commute to study.  Academics always came first, and he achieved a 4.69 GPA on a 5.0 point scale.  He was also a star football player, a track athlete, a leading actor in the school’s productions, and chair of the school’s peer mentoring program.  He became fluent in Spanish.  “I think that struggle - it ignites a fire under you to want to work hard and to want to do more,” he said.

“Everything in his life is preparing him for his future,” his proud mother said.  “He has been through a lot, he has seen a lot and guess what? It made him stronger.”  Elijah credits his mom with getting him to where he is, and she credits him with giving her the strength to be a mom.  His mother raised him alone for 13 years while his dad was in a federal penitentiary.

And where is he now?  Only five percent of applicants are accepted into Harvard, one of the world’s most prestigious universities, and 17-year-old Elijah is one of these elite Harvard bound graduating high school seniors!!!   Harvard awarded Devaughn a complete tuition, room and board scholarship, and his mom set up a GoFundMe campaign to help with books and other school expenses.

Where will Elijah be in 10 years?  “Umm, maybe med school, maybe Wall Street, or maybe an actor on somebody's stage,” he says. “I don't know, but I will be somewhere great. I know that.” Ducking for cover when he hears the ricochet of gunshots outside his bedroom window will now be a distant memory.



May the Good News brighten your day!




Student earns a bachelor’s degree before receiving her high school diploma!

Raven Osborne is the first student in the history of Indiana to earn a bachelor’s degree before receiving her high school diploma!   A week before she gets her diploma in May, she’ll be graduating from Purdue University with a bachelor’s degree in sociology with a minor in early childhood education.


Raven is a senior at 21st Century Charter School in Gary, Indiana, and has been taking college classes since she was 14.  The charter school pays college tuition for students who earn admission to partner colleges while still in high school.  Most students are able to receive credit for a few college courses while in high school, but Raven accomplished a whole bachelor’s degree of college credits.  Each semester, she took five classes, or 15 hours, at Purdue, while simultaneously taking classes at the charter school.


Raven never told any of the college students she met at Purdue that she also was a high school student. She doesn't drive so her mother and the charter school took her back and forth to university.  “It was very hard,” she said.  “At one point, I also tried to work a job.  I was working a midnight shift at a day care center.  I just had to watch the children while they were sleeping, then feed them breakfast when they woke up.  It was a daycare for parents who worked a night shift.  Eventually it just got to be too stressful, and I had to resign.”


Kevin Teasley, president and CEO of Indianapolis-based GEO Foundation, which runs 21st Century Charter School, explained: “Frankly, we’re breaking the cycle of poverty.  That’s what it’s really all about.”   The charter school pays the college tuition for the high school kids, so Raven is receiving her college degree unburdened by student loans.  She already has a job lined up for after graduation as she has been hired to work at 21st Century’s elementary school as an early interventionist.


What if most (or even all!) high schools were able to give this opportunity to their students.  All students can achieve beyond expectations if they’re given opportunities, guidance, encouragement, and assistance.  School districts have to decide priorities and how they can have the maximum impact on our children.


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