A college graduate from Maryland has been admitted to Harvard Law after continued adversity nearly made him abandon school altogether. After graduating high school, financial issues, illness and a major sports injury left 18-year-old Rehan Staton frustrated and exhausted as he worked to support his brother and father. However, neither his family nor his co-workers at the Bates Trucking & Trash Removal sanitation company could watch him give up on himself. Today, Rehan is not only a college graduate, but is heading to Harvard Law School this fall.
After years of private school and an otherwise “solidly middle class upbringing,” Rehan says, he and his older brother soon faced food insecurity while their father struggled to keep their house, often working two or even three jobs at a time to keep the bills paid. During this time, the family of three was ostracized by many of their extended relatives and had to rely on each other for support. By the 7th grade, Rehan’s academics had significantly suffered under the pressure of his difficulties at home. “I wasn’t eating meals every day and my dad was working all the time,” he recalled. “Sometimes there’d be no electricity at home.” Despite his fractured home life, Rehan found some solace in athletics and trained in martial arts and boxing.
However, when a teacher recommended that Rehan be placed in remedial classes at school, his father stepped in. At a local community center, his father met an aerospace engineer who offered to tutor Rehan for free for the remainder of the school year. “I ended up getting on the Honor Roll the rest of that year,” Rehan recalls. “The same teacher who suggested I be placed in special education actually wrote my dad an apology note.”
Rehan continued to improve academically while training to be a professional boxer in high school. However, his dreams were cut short when he suffered a double shoulder injury in the 12th grade. In a moment, his hopes of going pro after graduation were dashed. He hurriedly applied to a number of colleges before the year was out but was rejected from every school he applied to. “That ended up just not working in my favor,” Rehan says. “So, I ended up going to work as a garbage man.”