I wish I had known about this earlier! Hat tip to Talking Stuff blog for this story. Sharron Pearson, a junior and honors student at Crenshaw High School's gifted program in Los Angeles, was one of 400 high school students from around the world chosen to attend Oxford Tradition 2009. She’s also the first student from Crenshaw High School to be accepted into the summer program, which is at Oxford University in England. She had a scholarship to participate. One hitch: Ms. Pearson needed to raise $2,500 for airfare and other expenses.
Ms. Pearson, who has a 4.2 GPA (out of 4.0), is well-involved at her high school and takes classes at West Los Angeles College for college credit. After high school, she hopes to attend Columbia University and major in anthropology and journalism, then enroll in medical school. Ms. Pearson works hard in her studies. She was willing to work even harder toward her Oxford goal, including car washes. Even when her father (pictured behind her) didn't want her to apply in the first place because the family couldn't afford the program, she didn't let lack of money deter her. She applied anyway and urged her parents to reconsider (her mom says that they really wanted her to go, but they just couldn't financially do it), and the program accepted her.
Here's the tearjerker part. Her high school decided to start a fund. An article appeared in the Los Angeles Times' website on Tuesday evening, April 21 and in the newspaper on Wednesday, April 22. By noon Wednesday, Crenshaw High School (whose assistant principal is coordinating the fundraising effort) had been inundated with inquiries from 1,000 well-wishers offering donations ranging from modest checks to round-trip tickets. Among them was a man who did a long-distance drive to the school and, trying not to cry, personally donated $100.
Ms. Pearson said, "This tells me that you can do anything regardless of background or where you're from or your ethnicity. You can reach for the stars, and anything is possible."
Never let it be said that Americans don’t come out of pocket when there is a verifiable need and a worthy recipient. Even after the high school raised the needed $2,500, folks were (and probably are) still coming out of pocket asking to contribute toward Ms. Pearson's future educational dreams. Congratulations to Ms. Pearson, and keep up the good work!
And, if that isn't enough for this young woman, here are her plans for after Oxford:
If all goes according to plan, Sharron will return in mid-August, just in time to fly off to a separate 10-day academic program for gifted students at UC Berkeley.
"That program," she said, "is completely paid for."
Go on, my young Sista. Let your brain take you places beyond what your eyes can see.