Photo:Tyki Nelworth a star student leader at Washington Preparatory High School, who is officially classified as homeless. CBS
"Victory is won by struggling against oppostion. Victory is something you have to get up and take charge of." Words from a pastor quoted by Tyki Nelworth, a graduating senior at Washington Preparatory High School in Los Angeles.
What strikes me about this quote is what had to precede it in Nelworth's heart for it to serve as an inspiration to him. He had to want victory. How many of us simply make the choice not to want it because not wanting victory keeps life simpler, (not saying "better"), easier, smaller, known?
For Tyki Nelworth, the pivotal moment in his heart was when he learned from his sister that he had been "born a crack baby". In his boyhood, he lost his Dad to death, has lost his Mom to a life of drugs (she is now serving prison time), has moved from pillar to post, living with different relatives in different states and now, released from foster care, he's completing high school while living with a cousin and his cousin's girlfriend.
These are the circumstances that could have written a tale of victimhood, a story line often embraced in urban culture. But this story is different - it's the story of an overcomer, it is the story of victory.
Tyki Nelworth is graduating high school, worthy of note in a school district whose graduation rate arguably hovers somewhere between 40 and 60%. With AP classes in English, calculus, biology, chemistry and physics, Nelworth carries a 4.2 GPA, is president of the student body, and captain of the football team, plays baseball and runs track. His principal praises him. "For this young man, academics are first," said Todd Ullah, principal of Washington Preparatory. "He cares about people, and that shows in his academic work, the respect he shows for teachers. And he never misses an assignment, never misses school."
By the way, he's going to West Point Military Academy next year on a 4-year scholarship where he plans to study engineering. The alumni association of his high school provided the money to pay for his Advanced Placement tests, his senior dues and transportation to West Point. Alumni board member LaQuitta Cole told Nelworth:
We've watched you display amazing resilience, strength and determination. You have been an inspiration to everyone you come in contact with, and your efforts have not gone unnoticed.
A few posts ago, I wrote "they say hard times are coming - let them. We need grownups again." I'm grateful for Tyki Nelworth, soon to be Cadet Nelworth. I'm grateful that he chose to choose victory. I'm grateful that he chose to let hard times prepare him. I'm grateful that he chose to put himself in the service of his country. I'm grateful that he embraced the strange beauty of struggle. I'm grateful that he will grow into a man that will indeed, be a grownup.