Young man collected garbage for years to pay for college gets accepted to Harvard Law School.
For nearly three long years, Rehan Staton would wake up early in the morning so he could report for work. He worked as a garbage man for Bates Trucking & Trash Removal in Bladensburg, Maryland. He would spend his entire morning in his neon uniform collecting trash and cleaning dumpsters.
After his long and tiring shift as a garbage collector, he would hurry up and attend his classes at the University of Maryland. According to Rehan, sometimes, he didn’t have enough time to take a shower and would rush to go to school so he wouldn’t miss his classes.
He would choose to sit at the far back of the classroom so his classmates wouldn’t notice him and judge him. It was very hard to juggle his studies and his work, but he didn’t want to stop learning.
Rehan wanted to achieve his dreams.
It wasn’t easy for Rehan and his family. They had to deal with financial difficulties, issues and hurt of abandonment, and even illnesses.
According to Rehan, he remembered that “things were pretty good” in their family. Until one day, when Rehan was eight, his mother abandoned them and went home to Sri Lanka.
As a child, Rehan was devastated. He didn’t understand why this happened. It affected him so much that he started failing at school.
“Things just kept falling on us,” Rehand, now 24, remembered. “My dad lost his job at one point and had to start working three jobs in order to provide for us. It got to the point where I barely got to see my father, and a lot of my childhood was very lonely.”
His father tried his best to support the family, and Rehan knew that. His heart ached for his family. With three jobs, his father still wasn’t able to support his family.
In fact, it’s not uncommon for their home to have no food and even electricity.
He went to school but even there; he received no support nor felt any concern from his teachers and classmates. What kept Rehan going was his love for martial arts, however, his dream of becoming a boxer was shattered when he got injured.
In 12th grade, a still hopeful Rehan applied to several colleges. He wanted to go to college even though he knew he had a low SAT score.
Sadly, his applications were rejected.
He decided to go to Bates Trucking & Trash Removal and work there. He got along with everyone and his work became enjoyable, but his co-workers all wanted him to leave. They wanted him to try again and re-apply for schools. They wanted him to pursue his dreams.
“Most of my coworkers were ‘ex-felons,’ but they changed my entire life by the love and support they gave me,” Rehan recalled. “They encouraged me every day to pursue college. Even the owner of the company and his son encouraged me.”
Brent Bates, the trash company owner’s son, helped Rehan talk to a professor at Bowie State University. They appealed and they succeeded. Rehan was accepted into BSU.
With his newfound hope and inspiration, he started doing well in school again.
“I got a 4.0 GPA, I had a supportive community, and I became the president of organizations,” he said in his interview.
Seeing how Rehan is progressing, his older brother, Reggie Staton, 27, decided to drop out and work at the same trash company to support his young brother and his family.
“My brother took a job that people look down on, just so people could look up to me,” Rehan said, thankful for his brother’s sacrifice.
After two years, Rehan decided to transfer to the University of Maryland. There, he continued to wow everyone with his intelligence. Rehan was back and he’s more determined to reach his dreams!
Sadly, during the second semester, Rehan’s dad suffered a stroke.
Without any choice, he had to start working for the trash company again. But he decided that he would still go to school.
Rehan knew that this decision was going to be tough. He had to provide for his family and maintain good grades. He knew he’ll have a hard time, but he made sure that he was able to do it
Still hopeful despite all the hardships, Rehan took a job at the Robert Bobb Group as an analyst. He also took the LSAT and then he decided to apply to law school.
In March, Rehan finally received the results of his hard work. Along with his cousin, Dominic Willis, they filmed Rehan’s reaction to every letter.
At long last, after all his hard work and challenges, Rehan got accepted to several law schools:
University of Pennsylvania
University of Southern California
He was also included in the wait-list at the University of California at Berkeley, Georgetown University, UCLA, New York University, and University of California at Berkeley.
The greatest news of all, he was accepted at the prestigious Harvard Law!
“I felt at that moment, my brother made every sacrifice worth it,” Reggie, Rehan’s older brother said. “He did what he said he was going to do, and that was to get into a top law school.”
Rehan is so excited to become a lawyer, and when he does, he promises to represent ex-convicts and even death row inmates who had faced injustices in our law’s system.
He still remembers the people, mostly ex-cons, who pushed him to never give up and to reach for his dreams.
It’s still a long way for this law student, but with his mindset and hard work, Rehan will become one great lawyer.