In Columbus, Ohio, Lashawn Samuel made a lasting impression on how hard work pays off. For five years, Samuel walked three miles from his home to a local library to do his homework. Twelve colleges and universities accepted the Columbus City Schools’ student. Not only that, but some offered him a full scholarship. It includes his first choice, which is the Ohio State University.
Against all the odds, including his health, personal safety, and financial security, Samuel will be the first person in his family to go to college. In his interview with WJHL, he said that his story is a testament to what happens when you work hard and persevere. He also noted that leaning towards the community to get help when in need is a good idea.
According to Samuel, the words of world-famous tennis professional Arthur Ashe played a significant role in his achievements. Ashe, if you don’t know, is the only African American to win the singles titles. His wins include titles at the U.S. Open, Wimbledon, and the Australian Open. His words were, “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” These words are precisely what Samuel decided to do.
Coming from poverty, he had a disadvantage with getting fewer opportunities than the rest of his peers. Samuel then decided he had to make do with what he had. When Samuel was in eighth grade, he started to walk from his home to the Franklinton Branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library. The student signs into the Homework Help Center at around 3 p.m. and stays until the center closed. Then he’d walk back home.
The entire trip was about three miles. However, there were moments when he walked home in the dark to his Section 8 housing.
A Homework Help associate at the Columbus Metropolitan Library applauded Samuel’s achievements. Kelly Young told WJHL, “The kid has tremendous perseverance, and he just keeps going.” Young expressed that the staff watched Samuel’s progress from when he started going to the library. However, despite his improvement, he was still uncertain as to whether or not the schools he applied for would accept him.
Young said that during times of uncertainty, Lashawn’s story teaches us a lot of things. She said, “Using the resources that are around us in our community and depending on each other, that’s just the way that we can get through this current state and the uncertainty of what lies ahead.”
Samuel was ecstatic when he received his first letter of acceptance from the University of Akron. Several more came, and his concerns over getting in became concerns about which school he will choose. That became easy when Samuel received the acceptance letter from the Fisher College of Business at Ohio State University, his dream school. It even became better when he received full scholarships, making college free. Samuel thanked the Lord, his family, friends, and the community for his latest achievement.
At these trying moments, Samuel and his family remain hopeful, and he encourages others to do the same. He said, “There’s always going to be a challenge or an obstacle that you’re going to have to overcome or grow out of. But as long as you keep true to yourself, have faith and persevere so that you can overcome it, then you will.”
Samuel swore by Arthur Ashe’s words