Scholar’s story inspires local students

Rodney Walker shared his story of living in housing projects in Chicago’s south side, numerous foster homes, being homeless and his path to Yale and Harvard with a hundred students in the Black Box Theater at Williamsport Area High School Wednesday.

The students from Williamsport middle and high schools were inspired by Walker’s life story.

“I really listened to what he said about having hardships and not giving up,” Malik Jones, 16, said. “When he said, ‘sometimes you can’t fix something, so you might as well break it down and rebuild,’ I really took that in mind.”

Junior Kevin Smith, 17, like Walker, was adopted and was struck by how Walker went from being homeless and worked his way up to Harvard University.

Walker’s central message of, “I am a byproduct of one caring adult who refused to see me fail,” spoke to freshman Elijah Frierson, 15. “Talking to us about what he went thorough and everything, he had people that still helped him,” Frierson said. “That one adult figure that still helped him through what he needed, that there was someone who helped him get his grades up and helped him get to Yale and Harvard. Knowing what he went through with both his parents and where he lived with the gang violence and everything.”

Sophomore Nassir Jones, 15, took away “That you have to be patient and never give up on yourself,” he said.

Many of the students in the crowd had copies of Walker’s book ” A New Day One: Trauma, Grace and a Young Man’s Journey from Foster Care to Yale.”

Junior Jayani Davis, 17, held her copy that was autographed by Walker.

“He’s really inspiring,” Walker said. “He gave me some hope in my heart.”