Xavier Jones of St. Louis, Missouri, didn’t let a little problem like not having a ride keep him from his middle school graduation. Remembering the advice he received from his mentor Darren Seals of the Sankofa Community Center about having to get for yourself the things that you want, the determined 14-year-old made a plan to attend the ceremony. He mapped out the six-mile route from his home to Harris Stowe State University, where the ceremony was being held, and enlisted his brother and a friend to make the two-hour journey with him.
When Seals spoke at the graduation ceremony, he told the story of Jones having walked there that day to the applause of the crowd. “They clapped for him,” Seals says. “They were like, ‘Woah, this boy walked.'” One person in the crowd who was especially impressed was Harris Stowe’s president Dr. LaTonia Collins Smith who decided right then that Jones was the type of student they hoped for at Harris Stowe, and offered the young man a four-year, full ride scholarship to the university.
This week, the teen received a personal tour of the campus, getting a glimpse into his future. Jones is looking forward to accomplishing great things at Harris Stowe, saying, “There’s a lot of fun stuff you can do at this campus.” And Collins Smith is hopeful that Jones will find success at the school and says she learned a valuable lesson from him: ”Even on your worst day keep pressing forward.”