An Ohio teenager got into his dream school after he spent five years walking several miles to seek homework help at his local library.
Education is a potential way out of poverty for 19-year-old Lashawn Samuel. When he was in the eighth grade, he started walking from his Columbus home to the Franklinton branch of Columbus Metropolitan Library for homework help. The daily trip is a total of three miles, according to local TV news station WCMH.
Samuel studies from 3 p.m. until the facility closes and then walks home, sometimes in the dark. He knows the risk of those steps.
“My community, it’s been a struggle, living every day around gangbangers and thugs,” Samuel told The Columbus Dispatch. “You could get killed in a drive-by or just walking down the street.”
He has encountered his share of obstacles, including health struggles and the loss of a friend to gun violence. Nevertheless, the West High School senior persisted and left an impression on the library’s staff.
“He would be there literally every day, Monday through Friday from when we open at 3, and usually when the center closes at 6 he doesn’t go home but just continues,” Brandy Biegler, a youth service manager at the library, told WCMH.
“The kid has tremendous perseverance and he just keeps going,” said Kelly Young, a tutor at the branch.
Samuel’s determination resulted in 12 college acceptances and a few full-ride scholarships. His dream school, The Ohio State University, was among the generous institutions. He is also set to graduate with a 3.7-3.9 grade point average.
“I was so excited that I was going to college,” Samuel told WCMH. “Even if nobody else accepted me, I had this in my pocket. I knew that I had did what I had to do to get into college and my hard work was paying off.”
He plans to major in accounting and will start his first semester at Ohio State in the fall. The transition will be relatively soon since Samuel already takes classes at a community college.
“I never would have achieved it without God, my family, my friends, and this environment I have around me,” Samuel said.
The rising OSU Buckeye has simple advice for other students who want to reach his level.
“There’s always going to be a challenge or an obstacle that you’re going to have to overcome or grow out of,” Samuel said. “But as long as you keep true to yourself and have faith and persevere so that you can overcome it, then you will.”