CLOSE
Male graduate holds up a diploma while wearing a graduation gown. Vertical shot. Isolated on white.

Source: Getty

Lashawn Samuel has truly become a success story, despite the tough circumstances he was raised in. He’s a resident of the Franklinton area and says faith in God and his support system ensured his ability to focus on his education.

It’s safe to say that Samuel didn’t grow up in the most secure neighborhood. He was constantly at risk. Now, finishing up his last year of high school, he recalls some of the things he has overcome.

“My community, it’s been a struggle, living every day around gangbangers and thugs,” said Samuel, a senior at Columbus’ West High School. “You could get killed in a drive-by or just walking down the street.”

He plans to study accounting on a full-ride scholarship at Ohio State University.

He lost one of his closest friend due to street violence and has been around several other gun related deaths.

Despite the rough surroundings, Samuel has persevered and walked over a mile almost every day to the Columbus Metropolitan Library’s Franklinton branch.

At the library they have educational services available for students. Samuel has taken advantage of the library’s homework help center to buckle down on his studies.

“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,” said Brandy Biegler, youth service manager at the Franklinton branch.

Samuel has overcome much more than the violence surrounding him. He suffered in silence with anxiety and depression. He wrote an intense essay about teen suicide. In it, he proposed shortening the school day to allow teachers or other mentors time each day to check in with students’ mental health, with the same group of students throughout high school.

“He’s doing so much more than I imagined,” said his mother, Natasha Whitney, who has raised him as a single mother. “I’m very proud of him.”

Samuel also attends youth services and groups with the nonprofit group run by Central Ohio Youth For Christ, City Life. He says his faith was a major help with prevailing through dark times.

“God has been my greatest help,” he said. “And my family and the good support I have had around me.”

Lashawn Samuel’s hard work and dedication has paid off! He just celebrated his 19th birthday and is graduating with a GPA above 3.5 (final grades have yet to post). He has been accepted to 12 colleges, including The Ohio State University.

Along with OSU he was accepted into the University of Akron, Bowling Green State University, Capital University, the University of Cincinnati, Columbus State, Denison University, Ohio Dominican University, Ohio University, Otterbein University, Wittenberg University and Youngstown State University.

He has applied for more than 250 scholarships and was offered far more than he needed.

“I just wanted something better for myself,” Samuel said.

Lashawn plans to attend Ohio State University in the fall with a full ride scholarship. He has been accepted directly into their Fisher College of Business.

Source: Columbus Dispatch

Also On Power 107.5: