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From Trash Truck to Commencement Stage

December 10, 2018 History


In face of obstacles, student speaker shows heart of champion in reaching academic goals.

By Liam Farrell | Maryland Today 

"Getting up at dawn every day to ride a trash truck or refurbish dumpsters to help support his family before attending classes at UMD, Rehan Staton would repeat a famous mantra from Muhammad Ali: 'Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.'

"And he didn’t quit. Despite facing obstacles that could have wilted anyone’s determination, Staton has earned a history degree, propelled himself instead toward a legal career and become the student speaker at the university's main commencement ceremony on Dec. 18.

"Growing up in Bowie, Md., with a loving and supportive single father, Staton overcame negative expectations such as hearing someone say he was more likely to end up in jail than a college classroom. Although he once dreamed of becoming a professional boxer, rotator cuff injuries derailed his athletic pursuits. Instead, after graduating from high school, he got a job at a trucking company, hauling garbage and painting dumpsters.

"His co-workers had a simple message: Don’t stay here with us.

“'If it wasn’t for them,' he said, 'I wouldn’t have gone to college.'"

Read the complete article in Maryland Today. 

Image via Maryland Today.