Former Garbage Collector Accepted to Harvard Law School

Category : Education/Family

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. make ends meet / meɪk ɛndz mit / (idiom) – to have enough money to survive

    When we first moved into the city, my parents had to work several jobs to make ends meet.

  2. dash / dæʃ / (v) – to ruin one’s expectations or hopes

    The accident, which left a huge scar on my face, dashed my dreams of becoming a professional model.

  3. higher-up / ˈhaɪ ərˈʌp / (n) – a person of authority or influence in the workplace

    Decision-making in the company is always done by the higher-ups.

  4. give (one’s) all / gɪv ɔl / (idiom) – to do one’s best to accomplish something

    Even though she didn’t win the contest, she’s happy that she gave her all.

  5. fundraiser / ˈfʌndˌreɪ zər / (n) – an event that is done to collect money for a cause

    The organization started a fundraiser to support the education of children in poor communities.


Read the text below.

Rehan Staton, a 24-year-old college student who previously worked as a garbage collector, was accepted to Harvard Law School.

Born and raised in Maryland, Staton had a difficult life growing up. At one point, his father, who was his family’s sole provider, worked three jobs at once to make ends meet. Because of the difficulties his family faced, Staton struggled with his academic performance in elementary school. However, he eventually excelled and became one of the top students after getting help from a tutor his father met.

When he was in high school, Staton focused on boxing and dreamed of becoming a professional athlete. However, his hopes were dashed because of a shoulder injury.

Instead of continuing his studies, he decided to work as a garbage collector after graduating from high school. He said that he wanted to do it to help his father pay for bills and other household expenses.

A higher-up from Staton’s work heard about his story and helped him enroll at Bowie State University. Two years later, he transferred to the University of Maryland. After graduating in 2018, Staton became an analyst at a consulting firm. He eventually decided to pursue law and was accepted into Harvard Law School.

Staton said that he could not have made it without his support system. Having his family and coworkers by his side inspired him to give his all and pursue his dreams.

He will attend Harvard Law School this fall. To help with his expenses, a fundraiser has been set up.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• If you were in a similar situation as Staton, would you continue with your studies or take on a job after graduating from high school? Explain.
• How else can others help people like Staton with their studies (e.g. by giving them learning materials)? Discuss.

Discussion B

• What are common reasons why people stop pursuing their dreams? Discuss.
• How would you encourage someone to pursue their dreams despite difficulties? Explain.

Category : Education/Family