If you saw Rehan Staton doing his old day job; working for the Bates Trucking & Trash Removal sanitation company, you might make the mistake of thinking he didn’t work hard, or wasn’t very bright, so that’s why he was there.
But Rehan would surprise you. Born and raised in Bowie, Maryland. “Life was pretty normal until I was eight years old,” Rehan says. During that time, his mother left his father and the previously stable household faced financial difficulties as Rehan’s father tried to raise his two sons on his own.
Rehan says he and his older brother soon faced food insecurity while their father struggled to keep their house, often working two or even three jobs at a time to keep the bills paid. Rehan’s academics suffered a bit at this time, but a boost from his father and a tutor put him on the honour role after a teacher had suggested remedial courses.
Rehan had been studying martial arts and boxing and looked sure for a scholarship or even a professional career until he suffered a double shoulder injury in the 12th grade. In a moment, his hopes of going pro after graduation were dashed.
He hurriedly applied to a number of colleges before the year was out but was rejected from every school he applied to. “That ended up just not working in my favor,” Rehan says. “So, I ended up going to work as a garbage man.”
That’s how he ended up supporting his brother and father, as well as himself, with that work. But it was there he found the kind of support he had always needed. Among colleagues, almost all of whom were ex-convicts, his bright mind was recognized.
You see, working as a garbage man his coworkers saw how smart he was and eventually brought the bosses son, Brent Bates, to meet him, he was so impressed he took him to a Bowie State University Professor who was impressed enough to lobby the admissions board on Rehans behalf.
Well, Rehan was admitted, and promptly made a 4.0 GPA in his first year. “I became the president of organizations. I was winning so many scholastic accolades — it was crazy.” By the end of his second year, Rehan decided he wanted to go to law school. So he transferred to University of Maryland, where he graduated in 2018.
Now Rehan is set to begin Harvard Law School online this fall. All because his garbage men co-workers, all ex-convicts, saw the potential in this young man and did what they could to lift him up. You can find out even more about Rehan and his journey in your Good News Story of the Day here.
“Throughout my entire life … all the people in my life who I was supposed to look up to were the ones who always downplayed me and made me feel bad about myself,” Rehan says. “I had to go to the ‘bottom’ of the social hierarchy — that’s to say formerly incarcerated sanitation workers — in order to be uplifted.”
We can’t judge a book by its cover, and you can’t tell how bright, or hard working, someone is just by the job they have. An important lesson.
Story and Image from CNN.