Deshawn Hall, is a 16 year-old junior at Toltech T-Stem Academy at Memorial High School in San Antonio and not only does he dream of going to college, but he wants his classmates to go with him.
Going to a school in Edgewood Independent School District, where high school graduation rates are low, makes most adults count most of us out, Hall said.
“A lot of my classmates know they're capable of doing well and they know what to do they just don’t want to go and get,” Hall said. “I know I’m just a kid, but I talk to my friends about college, more people want to go than you’d think… they just need more information than they have.”
Hall lives on the Westside of town and says he was raised by a single mom who not only taught him the importance of a college education but the importance of helping those who come from the same means as you.
“It motivates me when I see students doing bad things because I know that in my heart I’m better than that and I’m more capable of being successful,” he said. “Whatever I can do to make my friends start thinking about their future and get excited about it then I do it… we have to help each other, that’s how we all get somewhere.”
Not only has Hall made it a point to help his classmates, he’s even befriended his neighbor, 11 year-old Pete Guerra, a fifth grader at Gardendale Elementary in the same school district.
Both Pete’s teachers and parent’s have seen a difference since the boy first met Deshawn, a difference that happened overnight.
“I wasn't getting good grades, I was getting in trouble with my teachers and I was disrespecting my mom,” Guerra said. “I really didn’t want to go to school…. The kids I would hang out with were bad…. They would smoke around me and they would beat up other kids, there really wasn’t anyone else for me to talk to in my neighborhood.”
The two built a friendship, based on nothing more than conversations of school, homework, goals and of plans of their future.
“Pete is very different than when I first met him,” Hall said. “He gets excited to talk to me about his day and I look forward to hearing about it. I think most kids around here are like that, they just need someone to look up to and someone who can be proud of them… someone their age.”
Most kids in the Edgewood district are dreamers and they all just need someone to help make sure they keep doing that even after high school, Hall said.
“I know were Edgewood and people say we're not the top school but we have students that are capable of being successful just as much as other top rank schools,” Hall said. “We just want the same resources as other schools and all the same chances.”