Shawna Myers, a College Counselor in Portland, with students from her breakout room during the Beating The Odds Summit at the White House, celebrating together.

This Is What Perseverance Looks Like

by Emma Scripps

“No one expected me to live past 16,” said Darius Wesley, a rising junior at Cleveland State University surrounded by 130 college-going students and Michelle Obama at a White House event Beating the Odds Summit last week. Darius, along with the other students, were there to celebrate overcoming tremendous obstacles and barriers on their path to college acceptance, some of them living in poverty, homelessness or foster homes.

Darius worked incredibly hard to get to college. But, he described the pathway to college graduation as one filled with just as many challenges. He talked openly about his self-doubt, not knowing whether he would make it through, or even if he belonged on a college campus. But here he was, addressing a room full of like-minded students at The White House, who had, just like him, persevered and found themselves being congratulated by the First Lady for their hard work.

As an organizer of breakout sessions for the event, I was able to invite seven educators from The Teachers Guild, a creative collaborative for teachers that I help to run. Earlier this year, these teachers had designed creative solutions to help students make it to and survive through college. They worked on ideas like iMentor App and Survival Week, through a Collaboration we ran with Reach Higher, the initiative out of The White House that helped to lead and organize the Beating the Odds Summit.

Listening to the teachers and students throughout the day brought up my own memories of teaching, and the importance of supportive and nurturing relationships, especially for students who need to be reminded of their potential.

Read the rest of the article in The Teachers Guild’s Medium collection.

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