Xavier Jones, an 8th student from St. Louis, was determined to attend his graduation from Yeatman-Liddell Middle School last month, even if it meant walking two hours. So he did just that.
The diligent student’s efforts were not in vain, as Harris-Stowe State University announced that he would receive a full-ride scholarship after graduating from high school, according to KATC. The 8th-grade promotion ceremony was held at the HBCU.
If Xavier, 14, decides to attend the HBCU after high school, the university will pay for him tuition, lodging, and books. “Jones, who was determined to attend his promotional ceremony, asked his brother and a friend to walk with him from West Florissant and Mimika in North St. Louis City, all the way to Harris-Stowe State University, located in Midtown, where the promotion ceremony was being held,” the university said.
In an interview with KTVI-TV, Xavier spoke about why he decided to embark on the 6-mile walk. “I remember something Mr. Seals (Xavier’s mentor) told me. He said, ‘If I want it, I got to go get it,’” he said. “So, I wanted to graduate, so I was going to go to my graduation.”
Xavier also spoke about his dreams and aspirations, saying that he’s “going to achieve something great by graduating, just like everybody else.” “I want to be a NASCAR driver,” he added.
President of Harris-Stowe State University, Dr. Latonia Collins Smith, also said she was touched by Jones’ will-power.
“When I heard that story and to see that young man who was so bright and excited and driven,” said Collins Smith, “it spoke volumes to me. It spoke of resilience, persistence, and perseverance. Regardless of what the adversity is, I’m going to press my way to this promotion ceremony. So that is what sparked my interest in saying, ‘Hey, this is the type of kid that we want to recruit to Harris-Stowe.”
Besides the scholarship, Harris-Stowe State University also said Xavier and his relatives had been given Illinois 300 NASCAR series tickets.
“She said, ‘You got a full ride,’ and I said, ‘Do you know what that means,’ and he said, ‘They’re going to give me a ride to school?’” Seals said. “I was like, ‘No, you’re getting a ride to college. He said, ‘Wait a minute, I don’t have to pay for college. Then it started hitting him.”