Rehan Staton, a college student and sanitation worker, made news three years ago when he was admitted to Harvard Law School. The Maryland guy now has his degree in hand.
Staton obtained his juris doctorate from Harvard on Thursday at a commencement ceremony.
Onlookers applauded as the young guy came over the stage, as shown in a video of the event. One person can be heard shouting, “My boy! Rehan, go!”
According to the 27-year-old, his family began getting into a lot of financial trouble when his mother left while he was in second grade.
There were holes in the ceiling. There was black mold festering in the basement. There were a lot of areas in the house that didn’t have floors, Staton said. It was a terrible scenario.
Staton graduated from high school with a 2.0 GPA. Previously, teachers had sought to put him in special education classrooms and had criticized his intellect.
Staton started working for Bates Trucking and Trash Removal in Maryland after graduating from high school. His coworkers urged him to return to school, and he finally reapplied to college.
Staton started his undergraduate career at Bowie State University before transferring to the University of Maryland. In the winter of 2018, he graduated and even served as the undergraduate graduation speaker.
Staton’s family almost lost their house to foreclosure in 2019 while suffering a major illness. Staton chose to take things into his own hands after seeing his dad return to work after a stroke.
Staton passed his LSAT less than a year later and was finally admitted to Harvard Law School.
Actor Tyler Perry even volunteered to pay for Staton’s education after witnessing a viral video of the young kid responding to his Harvard admission. Furthermore, more than $200,000 was contributed via GoFundMe to help send Staton to university.
Although he gets kudos for working hard, working hard was the easy part, he said in a recent Harvard Gazette story. But he just happened to be in the company of individuals who cared enough about him. He worked for a garbage firm, and his coworkers advised him to attend college instead. His supervisor allowed him to quit work, go to school, and return. He had a cousin who assisted him in studying for the LSAT.
He said that he couldn’t have done it alone.
Staton made friends with several of the school’s staff members while attending the elite institution.
They text, they hug when they see each other, and he considers them aunts and uncles, Staton said. He has felt very safe, taken care of, and loved, owing to the bonds he has with his support staff.
Staton was a regular donor to the Harvard community, including members of the faculty. The Maryland man used his funds in February 2022 to purchase 100 Amazon gift cards, which he then distributed to school personnel.
Staton helped fund $70,000 for janitors and other support staff employees earlier this year.
Staton also launched The Reciprocity Effect, an organization that tries to build a more comprehensive community at Harvard while mending the disconnect between staff and students, according to its website.
Staton’s employer, Bates Trucking and Trash Removal, gave $50,000 to help get the nonprofit off the ground.
Brent Bates, assistant operations manager at Bates Trucking and Trash Removal and co-founder of The Reciprocity Effect, said he and Staton “take pride” in helping people in the community.
Staton hopes to relocate to New York City and work at a law firm.
His ambition is to pursue his passion for athletics via business. He aims to one day own a professional sports franchise.
Whatever the future holds for him, he’ll always remember where he came from. He didn’t want to change after going to law school, he said. The allure is enormous. He went to work at high-end establishments and developed some interesting contacts and friendships. But he does not want to lose sight of who he is.
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