An Unforeseen Story: Overcoming Adversity
When I look back to where I was in life after graduating high school, a young man who had dreams of helping others in becoming an anesthesiologist, I had no idea that I was headed down the path that I am now on. I was 4th in my class when graduating from Thurgood Marshall High School in Dayton, OH. The principal and teachers that had molded me into the academic anomaly that I was had very high expectations for me, similar to the expectations that I had for myself. I was one of very few students coming from my graduating class that was admitted to a well-accredited university of the likes of The Ohio State University. Additionally, I had received a full-ride scholarship through the Young Scholars Program. Every aspect of my academic life seemed to be planned out and soon to come to fruition. Then, unfortunately, reality set in. Here I am, a freshman at the university that I had always dreamed of attending. I am majoring in Chemistry as I thought it would prepare me in becoming the anesthesiologist that I had hopes of becoming at the time. I was taking 15 credit hours during my first semester. The courses on my schedule were General Chemistry, Pre-Calculus, French I and a survey course for Chemistry majors. After only a month of completing coursework for the classes, I noticed that each of these courses were rigorous to an extent that I had never saw coming. I remained optimistic as I had always been able to overcome academic struggles that I suffered from prior to this experience due to my inherent intellectual ability. But this time felt different. It did not matter how much I used my study skills from high school, which were honestly very mediocre, the grades that I had been receiving were making me become increasingly worried my status not only at the university, but in life in general. As one may already assume, I ended my first semester with an overwhelmingly low GPA (2.1).
There were tears in my eyes for about a week straight going into winter break after that final grade was entered in the system. I found myself saying “there is no way.” My dreams of becoming a medical doctor was shattered in a short period of six months. Not only were my dreams of becoming a doctor now over, I was on the verge of losing my scholarship. I thought about all of the teachers, principals, and family members that I would be letting down. My mother who is at home caring for my severely disabled sister would be devastated. I am now losing myself mentally as I wondered how I would overcome these struggles.
I then changed my major to exploration. This would allow me to complete some general education courses while trying to figure things out for the future and retain the much needed scholarship that was at jeopardy of being lost. I thought about how I could major in a field that could still allow me to help others to the extent that I had previously desired, but would not force me to doubt myself in attaining that overarching goal due to the difficulty of the courses. I cycled through the idea of becoming a nurse, first. I realized very early on that this was not the path for me. I then looked into the majors of Sociology and Psychology. I found Sociology and Psychology to be interesting as I had taken the intro courses for the field during my second semester and performed very well. I talked to my advisor about the major and the different outcomes that students see when graduating with the degree and found that the major would be perfect for me. I then told the advisor that I would like to change my major to Sociology while minoring in Psychology.
Upon taking more Sociology courses, I began to discover that the many struggles I faced as a first-generation student at the university were not just caused by my lack of study skills or academic achievement. I learned more and more about how there are different determinants in how prepared I would be for college.
I did not allow these to become excuses for the reason why I did not do well coming into college, though. Instead, I allowed the new information that I had acquired to inspire me to pursue new goals with undying effort and motivation. I started by making myself comfortable with situations and positions that I had previously saw myself being uncomfortable with. I joined different organizations and took on more leadership positions. These positions propelled me into becoming more of a leader and better person than I had ever thought I would be. The 40th African American Heritage Festival is one leadership position in particular that I credit for bringing personal change and development upon me. For the first time in my life, I spoke in front of large groups of others with confidence.
I am now in my final semester of my undergraduate coursework. I will be graduating with a GPA higher than 3.0 with a degree in Sociology with a minor in Psychology. I have plans of attaining my graduate degree in Forensic Psychology and going further to pursue a Ph.D in either Sociology or Psychology. If I were to offer any advice to those reading this story, I would encourage you all to never give up on any dream or goal that you have. Become more comfortable with who you are. Join different organizations, meet new people, and remain positive and optimistic about your future. Seek help when you feel as if it is needed. There is always a way even when you do not see a way, you just have to remain persistent and disciplined in trying to achieve in every field of your endeavors.
Born and raised in Dayton, OH, Del’Shawn is a high school graduate from Thurgood Marshall High School. Del’ is committed to the mental health and well-being of all individuals within our society, especially those who have felt like their voice is not heard when they call for help. Del’ has become committed to discovering new prevention/intervention plans to stop youth from becoming juvenile delinquents and working towards breaking the stigma surrounding the black community in regard to mental health. Del’ will be graduating from The Ohio State University with a Bachelors of Arts in Sociology with a minor in Psychology. Del’ plans to pursue a Master’s of Science in Forensic Psychology - which is the intersection between Sociology and Psychology – in trying to attain his goals. In addition to being in his last semester of undergrad, Del’ works for the Non-Profit Eye for Change Youth and Family Services and Huckleberry House Crisis Shelter while also serving on the executive boards for the organizations of Black Mental Health Coalition, NAACP OSU Chapter, and the 41st African American Heritage Festival.
Del’ Educational History:
2015 - HS Graduate, Dayton Public Schools
2019 - BA in sociology, The Ohio State University
Connect with Del’:
Del’Shawn Davis (LinkedIn)