He Hauled Trash to Pay for College, Now On to Harvard Law

Tried and true cliches often sound tired and like they may not be true, but sometimes they are all we have to get us through tough times like the ones we are in. Rehan Staton’s story illustrates that the truism that “hard work pays off” is anything but cliche and that adversity can be overcome.

Life was normal until his mom left

Rehan Staton grew up in Bowie, Maryland. In his words, “life was pretty normal until I was eight years old.” Things changed when his mother left his father and moved out of the country. The previously stable life that Rehan and his brother had known, that included private school and financial security, was upended. While Rehan’s father struggled to provide, Rehan’s schoolwork suffered. As Rehan says, “I wasn’t eating meals every day and my dad was working all the time.” 

Someone who went to Rehan's GoFundMe page last week asked, "Is Carmie a real person?" Hummm, as opposed to a robot?…

Posted by Carmie McCook on Monday, July 6, 2020

Amidst his struggles, Rehan found athletics and martial arts. With the help of a tutor from a local community center who offered to tutor Rehan for free, he was able to improve his grades. Throughout high school, Rehan continued his studies with the goal of becoming a professional boxer, but his dreams and hopes were cut short when he became injured in the 12th grade. 

Not one college took him

He quickly applied to several colleges, but was rejected from every single school. Rehan recalls, “That ended up just not working out in my favor. So, I ended up going to work as a garbage man. It was the first time in my life people were lifting me up and not because I was good at sports.”

His co-workers at Bates Trucking & Trash Removal were all wondering why he was there and would encourage him to do something else. They eventually spoke to the son of the owner of the company, Brent Bates, who took Rehan under his wing, and introduced him to a professor at Bowie State University. 

The professor was so blown away by Rehan, that he went to the admissions board on his behalf. By the end of his first year, Rehan had earned a 4.0 GPA. By the end of his second year, he knew that he wanted to go to law school

An Open Letter to My Older Brother,It goes without saying that I never thought I would be accepted to Harvard Law…

Posted by Rehan Staton on Thursday, June 25, 2020

Rehan gives credit to his time as a sanitation worker for helping him to realize his own potential. As he says,

throughout my entire life…all the people in my life who I was supposed to look up to were the ones who always downplayed me and made me feel bad about myself. I had to go to the ‘bottom’ of the social hierarchy…that’s to say formerly incarcerated sanitation workers — in order to be uplifted. 

Rehan Staton

After his sophomore year at Bowie State University, Regan transferred to University of Maryland, where he graduated two years ago.

Following his graduation, Rehan worked in political consulting in Washington, DC while studying to take the LSAT. He was accepted at many prestigious universities, including Harvard Law School, where he will begin classes this fall. 

Rehan plans to pay it forward

His future plans include giving back to other young people through LSAT tutoring and college counseling. 

In his words, “When I look back, I like to think that I made the best of the worst situation.”

In our words, he is an inspiration to us all. 

You Might Also Want to Read

Virtual Volunteer Opportunities for Teens For your teen who wants to give back this summer, here are some great ideas.

About Melissa Milsten

Melissa Milsten lives in Westchester, New York with her husband, their four teenagers and Ruby the dog (who is sometimes the best behaved member of the family). Her background is in publishing and marketing. When she isn’t working or parenting, you might spot her on a yoga mat or lacing up a pair of sneakers. You can read more about her here

Read more posts by Melissa

Don't miss out!
Want more like this? Get updates about parenting teens and young adults straight to your inbox.