Ohio teen who walked three miles a day to library for extra help accepted to 12 colleges


COLUMBUS, OH.- With all the bad going on in the world today, it is so refreshing to be able to tell the story of someone who has beaten the odds.

This is a story about Lashawn Samuel of Columbus, Ohio, whose hard work paid off when he was accepted to 12 colleges and universities, despite overwhelming odds.

For five years, Lashawn walked a three-mile round trip from his home to the Columbus Metropolitan Library to get help with his homework, and now all of that has led to him being rewarded.


NBC-4 in Columbus reports that Lashawn achieved his dream of being the first one in his family to go to college after receiving the 12 acceptances, several of which offered him a full scholarship, including his first choice, THE Ohio State University.

Lashawn said that is achievement is a story that if you work hard and never quit, and seek help from your community to get help, you can achieve whatever you want. In other words, Lashawn never played the victim, as we so often see these days.

Lashawn said that much of what inspired him were the words of the late Arthur Ashe, a professional tennis player.

Ashe was the only African American to ever win the singles titles at the U.S. Open, Wimbledon, and the Australian Open. Ashe is believed to have contracted HIV during  cardiac bypass surgery from a blood transfusion in the early 1980’s.

Speaking to challenges, Ashe said: “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”

When Lashawn was faced with the challenge of getting into college, he embraced the words from Ashe.

Growing up, Lashawn did not get a lot of opportunities, especially with growing up in poverty. However, he made the most of the opportunities he did have.

Beginning when he was in eighth grade, Lashawn regularly made the trip from his house to the Franklinton Branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library, walking the three-mile round-trip.

Once he got to the library, he signed into the Homework Help Center around 3pm, worked until the center closed and walked back home. Occasionally, Lashawn would make the trip home in the dark to his home, which was Section 8 (government subsidized) housing.

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Over the five years that Lashawn made the daily trip, he got sick and had to be hospitalized, struggled with hunger, and also lost one of his friends to gang violence.

Lashawn’s story is an amazing tale of perseverance, goal setting and striving for a dream. It would have been easy for anyone, let alone a teenager to give up during his journey, but Lashawn kept his eyes on the prize.

“The kids has tremendous perseverance and he just keeps going,” said Kelly Young, one of the Homework Help associates at the Columbus Metropolitan Library.

As Lashawn progressed through the program, Young noted that the staff noticed how much his writing had progressed since he first started going to the library. Still, as he began applying to colleges, he was nervous and uncertain if any college would accept  him.

“During a time like this, when we are all facing such uncertainty, I think Lashawn’s story can really teach us,” Young said.

“Using the resources that are around us in our community and depending on each other, that’s just the way that we can all get through this pandemic and all the uncertainty of what lies ahead.”

Lashawn’s first letter of acceptance came from the University of Akron, and Lashawn said that he was as happy as if he got into his dream school.

“I was so excited that I was going to college,” Lashawn said. “Even if nobody else accepted me, I had this in my pocket. I knew that I had did what I had to go get into college and my hard work was paying off.”

As more acceptance letters began to trickle in, Lashawn’s concern changed from getting into school toward figuring how to decide which school to choose.

However, once Lashawn was accepted into the Fisher College of Business at The Ohio State University, his dream school, the decision was made for him.

On top of getting accepted at Ohio state, Lashawn soon found out that he was also being offered scholarships that would make it almost free for him to attend school. Not only that, but Ohio State was not the only college that offered him such a lucrative deal.

Lashawn credits a lot of different things for his success. He said that graduating with a degree will open up doors for him that  will enable him and his family to experience things far beyond what they are currently able to. He noted that it took dedication perseverance, and faith.

“I never would have achieved it without God, my family, my friends and this environment I have around me,” he said.

In spite of what is going on with the coronavirus pandemic, Lashawn said that he hopes people can keep hope alive and to not let the virus stop them from pushing toward their goals.

“There’s always going to be a challenge or an obstacle that you’re going to have to overcome or grow out of,” he said. “But as long as you keep true to yourself and have faith and persevere so that you can overcome it, then you will.”

Lashawn’s story of perseverance is a powerful lesson to all of us that shows with enough determination, we can get through anything. God Bless You Lashawn!

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