Lashawn Samuel has traveled three miles round trip from his house to a local library for help with his homework for the past five years, and it has paid off.
The Columbus City School’s kid claims he was admitted to 12 colleges and institutions this spring, with several of them offering full scholarships, including Ohio State University, his first pick.
He will be the first in his family to attend university.
Despite numerous hurdles to his health, personal safety, and financial stability, he was able to achieve his objectives.
Samuel claims that his tale demonstrates what can be accomplished when you work hard, persevere, and rely on your community for support when you need it.
The comments of Arthur Ashe, the world’s most famous tennis player, have aided him. Ashe is the only African-American to win a singles title at the United States Open. The Open, Wimbledon, and the Australian Open are three of the most prestigious tennis tournaments in the world. It’s thought he got HIV from a blood transfusion during heart bypass surgery in the early 1980s.
“Start where you are,” Ashe advised on taking on challenges. Make the most of what you have. “Do your best.”
That’s exactly what Samuel did while applying to colleges. He had fewer possibilities than most because he grew up in poverty, but he made the best of what he had.
Samuel began walking from his home to the Franklinton Branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library at 3 p.m., checking into the Homework Help Facility, working until the center closed, and then going back home.
The total distance traveled was three miles. He walked home in the dark to his Section 8 apartment on occasion.
Samuel became ill and had to be hospitalized during that time, struggled to eat enough food, and lost a friend to gang violence.
“The kid has tremendous perseverance and he just keeps going,” said Kelly Young, one of the Homework Help associates at the Columbus Metropolitan Library.
Samuel’s writing had improved dramatically since he began coming to the library, according to Young. However, he remained frightened and unsure about whether or not schools would accept him.
“During a time like this, when we are all facing such uncertainty, I think Lashawn’s story can really teach us,” Young said. “Using the resources that are around us in our community and depending on each other, that’s just the way that we can all get through this pandemic and all the uncertainty of what lies ahead.”
The University of Akron was the first to send an acceptance letter.
“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.”
Then he received several more acceptance letters, and his worries about getting in morphed into anxiety over which school to attend.
But after he received his admission letter to Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business, he knew exactly where he wanted to attend.
Things got even better when he discovered that he was eligible for scholarships that made going to school almost free.
“I never would have achieved it without God, my family, my friends, and this environment I have around me,” Samuel said.
As the COVID-19 pandemic wreaks havoc on millions of people’s lives, Samuel and his family have hope, and he advises others to do the same.
“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.”