Youth's passion for learning beats the odds
Atlantan succeeds while he overcomes family tragedy, other obstacles.
By Mark Davis
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
The trophies are impossible to ignore. At least 37 fill the living room of the south Atlanta apartment Deonte Bridges shares with his mother. Thirty-six extol the teenager’s academic achievements at Booker T. Washington High School.
The 37th trophy? Bridges, 18, smiled. “Basketball,” he said. Turns out he played the sport in ninth grade but gave it up. The game got in the way of more important things.
Such is the focus of Deonte Kivon Bridges, a kid who still marvels at what he’s accomplished at such long odds.
Bridges is Washington High’s first black male valedictorian in more than a decade, a rising freshman at UGA, the winner of scholarships totaling more than $1 million.
And this: A YouTube posting of his graduation speech, nearly five minutes long, has been viewed more than 80,000 times. He has nearly 1,600 Facebook friends who live all over the world.
Bridges reset the academic bar at Washington, despite his mother’s cancer, his brother’s death, an armed hold-up and peer pressure to put down his books and embrace the street life.
With a 3.9 grade point average, he’s the recipient of 26 scholarship offers. Emory University tossed a $201,000 scholarship at his feet, which he declined in favor of an all-expenses-paid education at the University of Georgia, courtesy of the $360,000 Gates Millennium Scholars Program. The award, given by Microsoft founder Bill Gates, will pay for his undergraduate and graduate education.
Read the rest of his story at the link above.