A 24-year-old from Bowie, Maryland, has been accepted to Harvard Law School, and he says it’s all thanks to the support he received in his job as a garbage collector.
FORMER SANITATION WORKER ACCEPTED AT HARVARD LAW: Rehan Staton from Bowie used to wake up as early as 4 am to haul trash & clean dumpsters, to help support his family & pay for college @UofMaryland. He sometimes didn't have time to shower before class (1/2) pic.twitter.com/j5A924Edqi— Aimee Cho (@AimeeCho4) June 29, 2020
And here is Rehan w/ his older brother Reggie. Rehan says when he got into college, Reggie dropped out so Rehan could go. Reggie also worked in sanitation to help pay the bills. On his brother, Rehan told me, "He took a job people look down on, all so people would look up to me." pic.twitter.com/SvkuQ8ZTSp— Aimee Cho (@AimeeCho4) June 29, 2020
After overcoming the obstacles of his upbringing, and an injury that forced him to give up a future as a professional boxer, Rehan Staton took a job as a sanitation worker, waking at 4 am to support his family.
Staton said his ex-convict colleagues and the company owner’s son, Brent Bates at Bates Trucking & Trash Removal saw his potential and made sure he stayed accountable to his dreams.
“It was the first time in my life people were lifting me up for the sake of lifting me up and not because I was good at sports,” Staton told CNN.
“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,” he said.
“I had to go to the ‘bottom’ of the social hierarchy – that’s to say formerly incarcerated sanitation workers – in order to be uplifted.”
Staton’s mother left his family when he was 8, moving out of the country. Until then, he said he’d had a “solidly middle-class upbringing” in Bowie, but after his mother left, his father struggled to support Staton and his brother Reggie, 27.
Although his dad worked multiple jobs, Staton’s home environment wasn’t always stable.
“I wasn’t eating meals every day and my dad was working all the time,” he said.
“Sometimes there’d be no electricity at home.”
Staton took refuge in his natural ability and passion for sports like martial arts and boxing, but by the time he reached 7th grade, his grades had begun to suffer.
When Staton’s teachers recommended he be placed in remedial classes, his father was able to set him up with a tutor, an aerospace engineer he’d met at a local community center, who agreed to work for free.
The tutor helped Staton keep his grades up so he could stay in his usual classes. Eventually, he even made the Honor Roll list, and the teacher who recommended he be placed in remedial classes apologized to his father for the suggestion.
Staton trained as a boxer all through high school, but his plans to go pro were cut short after he suffered a double shoulder injury during his senior year.
Staton quickly employed plan b and applied to a number of colleges but wasn’t accepted to a single one.
“So, I ended up going to work as a garbage man,” he said.
During his time as a sanitation worker, his coworkers and boss, Bates, recognized Staton’s potential.
Bates took Staton to see a professor at Bowie State University who was so impressed with the high school graduate, he made an appeal to the school’s admissions board and Staton was able to start in an undergraduate program that year.
He even earned a 4.0 GPA in his first year at Bowie State.
“I became the president of organizations. I was winning so many scholastic accolades— it was crazy,” Staton said, adding that by the end of his second year, he decided to go to law school.
Staton got more support from people who believed in him when his older brother, Reggie, dropped out of Bowie State, returning to work to support the family so Staton could pursue his studies.
After two years at Bowie State, Staton transferred to the University of Maryland and graduated in 2018.
Since graduation, Staton’s been working hard, getting on-the-job experience in political consulting at the Robert Bobb Group, a firm in downtown DC, while studying for the LSAT.
And his efforts were recognized— Staton was accepted to at Columbia, University of Pennsylvania, the University of Southern California, Pepperdine, and of course, Harvard.
“When I look back at my experiences, I like to think that I made the best of the worst situation. Each tragedy I faced forced me out of my comfort zone, but I was fortunate enough to have a support system to help me thrive in those predicaments,” Staton said.
Staton is grateful for the community that helped him overcome obstacles as a youth. He plans to work as an LSAT tutor and college counselor in order to help young people.
You’re a phenomenal and dope black man— Seeker Of Allah (@allah_seeker) July 7, 2020
Mr. Rehan Staton pic.twitter.com/uMQNoytV0v
Donate to Staton’s tuition GoFundMe here.