From eighth grade until his senior year of high school, Columbus, Ohio, teen LaShawn Samuel walked a 3-mile round trip from his home to get to the library and back every day for homework help. Now, he’s learned that his hard work and dedication are paying off. The teen, who persevered amid all the hardship, has been accepted to 12 different colleges, including The Ohio State University and a handful that are offering him a full ride.
According to WCMH, Samuel grew up living in Section 8 housing and for the last five years has been walking for a distance of 3 miles to the Franklinton Branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library to sign in to the homework help center each day.
However, despite the substantial distance and the fact that his walk back home was sometimes made in the dark, Samuel still made his way to the local library every day to check in at 3 p.m. The devoted teen would work until the center closed, doing everything in his power to make sure that when the time came he would be prepared to go to college.
Over the course of his life, Samuel dealt with numerous challenges. According to WSYX, the teen, who grew up in poverty, struggled with food insecurity, had his home broken multiple times, suffered from numerous health problems, and lost his close friend to gang violence.
However, through all the trials and tribulations that came his way, Samuel didn’t give up and continued to persevere, overcoming each hardship.
So what motivated the young lad to keep going? According to WCMH, it was the words from tennis legend Arthur Ashe, who is the only African American man to win the singles titles at the U.S. Open, Wimbledon, and the Australian Open. Alluding to taking on challenges, Ashe said: “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”
Over the five years, Samuel’s efforts didn’t go unnoticed, though. Kelly Young, a Homework Help associate at the Columbus Metropolitan Library, shared that the staffers noticed his writing skills improve from year to year as he got closer to college application age.
By grade 12, Samuel had shown the kind of hard work and dedication to his education that colleges look for. Although he expressed trepidation of being accepted in any university after sending in college applications, Samuel started to see the acceptance letters roll in one by one—starting with The University of Akron.
At first, he explained that the acceptance letter from Akron was a thrill because it meant he would be going to college. “I was so excited that I was going to college,” Samuel said. “Even if nobody else accepted me, I had this in my pocket. I knew that I … did what I had to do to get into college, and my hard work was paying off.”
However, not long after the acceptance letters started to pile up, he had to not be worried about which college would accept him but which one he would attend. But when his dream school, Fisher College of Business at The Ohio State University, sent him an acceptance letter, he decided to go, making him the first in his family to attend college.
Samuel hopes that people will be able to see his story as a source of inspiration for themselves, especially in times of uncertainty like the ones the world is facing due to the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus.
“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.”