Louisiana High School Senior Pens Inspirational Essay About Beating the Odds

“Although my childhood was difficult, I am now in a place where I can appreciate the lessons that those experiences taught me and I can in turn use them as building blocks toward my success”

Ronnie Sidney II, former Special Education student and Best-Selling Children’s Book Author (“Nelson Beats The Odds“) who beat the odds, has reached out to high school student-athlete Devonte Harris. Harris, who has beat the odds as well, is aspiring to enroll in Southern University in the Fall.  
Devonte Harris, a senior at Northshore High School, wrote the following essay:
“I grew up with family and friends who barely finished high school and did not even attempt to attend college. Although I was a misguided kid, I dreamed of furthering my education so that I could get a degree and make something of myself. I knew there had to be more to life. Yet I found it difficult to stay focused on my aspirations because of all of the distractions and negativity that surrounded me. There were school fights, peer pressure, and extreme family conflicts. It got to the point where I felt like I was destined to either follow the path of those around me, or I could start a new path even if that meant walking alone.
While Marion will always be home for me, I knew that I had to find a new destination to rid myself of feelings of hopelessness, despair, and poverty before it was too late. At the age of sixteen, I took advantage of an opportunity to move to Slidell, LA with a family friend. This move was also symbolic of me moving closer to my dreams of obtaining a college degree.

Unfortunately, things have not magically improved for me since relocating. I have been rerouted several times, and my college dorm room will likely be the first stable home I have ever known. I have lived with four different families in the past three years. Each transition has been a bit more difficult than the last. I also have financial responsibilities that typical high-schoolers do not have to concern themselves with. I currently have a part-time job averaging 30 hours per week, which helps cover expenses such as my phone bill, groceries, school dues, and transportation.



Despite these experiences, however, I consider myself a conqueror because not only have I realized what is best for me but I have sacrificed in order to make my dream a reality. God is now surrounding me with a circle of people who provide the support I was previously lacking. They have encouraged me to reach for new heights, have provided emotional and financial support with my efforts in getting into college, and have even (lovingly) fussed at me when needed. While balancing work and a full course load, I have been able to maintain a 3.0 grade point average. I consider myself to be a “regular” teenager, and enjoy playing on the varsity basketball team and hanging out with my friends. I am even looking forward to going to prom later this month.

I will be graduating in May and have been accepted into Southern University in Baton Rouge, LA. I look forward to furthering my education, and am confident that I will be successful as I have already mastered certain life skills such as time management, adapting to new environments, and balancing multiple responsibilities at once. Although my childhood was difficult, I am now in a place where I can appreciate the lessons that those experiences taught me and I can in turn use them as building blocks toward my success.


Realistically I understand that college will still bring its own set of challenges. I will once again have to uproot myself and move to a new environment. I will continue to work while in school to ensure I have safe housing and other basic necessities. And I can only imagine that excelling in the engineering program will require an even higher level of resilience. While more speed bumps, potholes, and detours may await me, I trust that I am strong enough to continue to persevere. Because I have learned that the strength that lies within me is much greater that any obstacle that may lie before me. And I continue to trust that my best is yet to come.”

Mr. Nolan, Devonte Harris‘s teacher:


I have worked extensively with Devonte at school this past year. No student has ever impressed me or made quite the impact on me he has. He is an inspiring young man and capable of great things. We all at his school are excited for what is ahead. I want to thank you for taking this interest in Devonte. Every dollar is a huge help for him.

Devonte Harris contacted me a few weeks ago and asked about a scholarship that I offered to Essex High School seniors who beat the odds. Devonte wasn’t eligible for the scholarship because he didn’t attend Essex High School. After reading his essay I reached out to him and told him that I wanted to help. I started a GoFundMe page for his personal #iBeatTheOdds scholarship fund. This young man has truely beat the odds. Please help Devonte’s college dreams come true. He graduates in May and hopes to enroll in Southern University and A&M College, let’s send him off with a few dollars in his pocket. Here is the link to his GoFundMe page https://www.gofundme.com/anyqrcsk

Author: Ronnie Sidney II, MSW

Ronnie Sidney, II, MSW, is a father, therapist, author, app developer, professional speaker, philanthropist and entrepreneur. He received a Master of Social Work from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2014. Ronnie was raised in Tappahannock, Virginia, and attended Essex County Public Schools (ECPS). While attending ECPS, he spent several years in Special Education after being diagnosed with a learning disability. The stigmatization of special education created a lack of interest in school. With limited options regarding four-year colleges, he decided to enroll in J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College in Richmond, Virginia. The following year, he transferred to Old Dominion University, where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Services in 2006. Sidney has since published two books, "Nelson Beats the Odds" and "Tameka's New Dress". He also developed the Nelson Beats the Odds Comic Creator.

4 thoughts on “Louisiana High School Senior Pens Inspirational Essay About Beating the Odds”

  1. Awesome!!! Great things will be in your future! May God’s blessings and guidance always be with you!! 🙂


  2. Congratulations young man. You are a testament that all things are possible when you have the determination and inner strength to succeed. Praying for your continued success.

    Liked by 1 person

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