14-year-old walks over 2 hours to make it to 8th grade graduation: ‘I wanted to walk across the stage’
ST. LOUIS (KMOV/Gray News) – A young teenager walked for more than two hours to make it to his eighth-grade graduation, and his commitment to showing up has now secured him a full-ride scholarship for his future.
Xavier Jones, a 14-year-old from St. Louis, walked six miles from his home to his graduation ceremony last week because he was determined to walk across the stage and get his diploma.
“If you want something done, you gotta go ahead and do it yourself,” Xavier said.
Xavier is a student from Yeatman Middle School, but the ceremony was being held at Harris-Stowe State University.
Xavier said his grandfather’s car was not working at the last minute, so he didn’t have a ride.
“I was going to tell an adult, but my grandpa’s car was down. So, I was just going to walk there,” he said.
Unbeknownst to his grandfather and the school staff, Xavier came up with a plan to get there without a ride.
“I looked up Harris-Stowe University on Google Maps, and then I saw the walking distance, and then I said, ‘I could probably make it,’” Xavier said.
Xavier recruited his brother and a friend to make the six-mile journey with him.
“I wanted to walk across the stage,” he said.
Fortunately, Xavier made it in time for the ceremony.
Upon learning of the lengths Xavier took to attend the graduation, Harris-Stowe State University administrators were so moved by his determination that they promised Xavier with a full-ride scholarship to the university after he finishes high school in four years.
Dr. Latonia Collins Smith, President of Harris-Stowe State University, said Xavier’s story is a reminder of the obstacles many students face.
“Many of our students come with a story, and many of our students come with environmental barriers they have overcome or that they are currently overcoming,” Collins Smith said.
The full-ride scholarship will cover Xavier’s cost of tuition, fees and all books someday.
“I just led with my heart, and I followed my heart, and my heart said, ‘This is a kid that needs a scholarship,’” Collins Smith said.
On Wednesday, Xavier received a personal tour of the university’s campus. For now, he said he hopes to be a NASCAR driver after he graduates from college.
Collins Smith said Xavier’s determination is something we can all learn from.
“At the end of the rainbow, there’s a pot of gold. I learned a lot from Xavier that day,” Collins Smith said. “Even on your worst day, keep pressing forward.”
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