WASHINGTON - Rehan Staton, a former sanitation worker who recently celebrated his graduation from Harvard Law School says hard work and help from family, friends – and even Tyler Perry – put him on a path to success.
But his path was anything but easy. His struggles began after his mother left the family when he was just a young boy in Maryland.
Staton said his family struggled financially growing up, and when he did finish high school, he did so with poor grades. He said he had a low 2.0 GPA at the time of his graduation and his SAT scores were only a 1040 out of 2400. "That's why I became a garbage man – because no college took me after graduation," he told FOX 5.
Staton said that his co-workers at the sanitation company where he worked supported and encouraged him to push himself. He eventually was accepted into Bowie State University. From there he was able to transfer to the University of Maryland. Once there, he decided he wanted to aim for Harvard.
Staton says many others played a role in his success. "I had a great dad, a great older brother who sacrificed – and eventually they helped me find my way," he said.
Filmaker Tyler Perry was another who believed in him. Staton says he remembers getting the call from Perry like it was yesterday. He thought it was a joke at first – but had no choice to believe him once he did the famous Madea voice. Perry covered Staton's tuition to Harvard.
Rehan Staton recounts journey from Maryland sanitation worker to Harvard Law School graduate
Staton says his experience at Harvard was fantastic and says he was surrounded by wonderful classmates and professors. "There is no easy way to say it. But I guess growing up like in the house that i grew up in again. There were times where there was like black mold festering and we didn't have heat. Just constant survival every day. My brother even had to drop out of school so I could go to school."
The support at Harvard helped him ultimately reach his goal of graduating. Staton says his journey will take him to New York where he will work for a law firm.
He's also giving back. While at Harvard, he launched a nonprofit called The Reciprocity Effect, to bring visibly and a better quality of life to support staff and blue collar workers.