“The question isn’t who’s going to let me; it’s who’s going to stop me.” -Ayn Rand

Lauren and D

By Lauren Jones

Statistically speaking June 12 is not possible for D.  He is black, male, living way below the poverty line, and from a single parent home.  He’s been to jail, failed multiple classes, and been suspended time and time again, expelled from school, and he’s the father of three.  Society would tell you, what’s about to happen is impossible.

Yet, it is happening.  This young man will walk that stage on June 12. I don’t know that anyone else participating in graduation next week will feel more proud of their diploma.

Things haven’t always been easy between me and D.  The first time we met he tried to push me away.  He physically did push me at one point (we laugh at this story now), because he was trying to shield himself from someone saying they would help him, and then bailing, or someone simply giving up on him. That’s not what happened.

Last year D quit coming to school.  The students told me he was dropping out.  I drove into his neighborhood and marched myself up to his door.  The one sided conversation went something like this:

“You’re not throwing in the towel.  I won’t let you.  Get yourself back to school, now.”

I saw something in D.  Isn’t that all it takes? One person that notices you and decides not to give up on you.  One person that sees the heart of who you are.  One person in your corner no matter what.  I decided to be that person for D.  One of my greatest decisions so far.

Despite the odds against him, he has drive, he has a spark.  He wants it.  We’ve learned a lot from one another, but I feel certain he’s taught me more than I have ever taught him.  He relies on no one.  He knows success comes from within himself.  I’m proud to know him.

June 12 proves everyone wrong.  Isn’t that part of why we do this work? The sweetest moment is when a child conquers their own doubts and climbs right over the world’s low expectations for them to prove that the impossible is truly possible.  And with that powerful knowledge, no one could stop him.