Staying strong - Keenan King, an educational leadership doctoral student at Western Michigan University, talks to Denise Cole’s Park Elementary fifth graders about overcoming obstacles and getting a college degree. Commercial-News/Elena Meadows

‘If I can do it, anyone can do it’

Park students learn about the importance of college

THREE RIVERS — Would you want someone uneducated doing brain surgery on you, or handling your money? Keenan King asked fifth-graders at Park Elementary on Friday, Jan. 20.
“No,” they agreed.
Education and its importance, as well as overcoming obstacles to getting it such as being a man of color, were the topics of the Western Michigan University educational leadership doctoral student’s visit with students.
“College is awesome,” he said, encouraging all of the children to seek out higher education. “Even as a Ph.D. student I listen to hip hop and play Xbox. I’m still a regular person … if I can do it, anyone can do it.”
As a young person on the east side of the state, he went to a school similar to Park Elementary, with some black and Latino students but mostly white students, and often felt alone.
“You don’t wholeheartedly overcome [racism],” he said. “You’re never OK with it, but you do develop thick skin.”
The key is remembering why they are in school — it’s not for their teachers, it’s for themselves.
He remembers being bullied in fifth through seventh grade.
“It doesn’t feel good,” he said, recommending that students who are being victimized seek help from adults.
Eventually he became captain of his high school football team. He wanted to be in the NFL, but eventually realized not everyone would be able to do that.

Please see Saturday’s Commercial-News print or e-edition for the full article.
 

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