COLUMBUS, Ohio (Christian News Network) — An Ohio teenager who grew up in a troubled neighborhood, and who was recently accepted into 12 universities, is crediting God, his family, and the positive influences in his life for helping him overcome anxiety and depression and to rise above difficult life circumstances to succeed in life.
“God has been my greatest help,” Lashawn Samuel told The Columbus Dispatch. “And my family and the good support I have had around me.”
According to the outlet, Samuel is a part of City Life, an outreach of Central Ohio Youth for Christ. The organization seeks to “connect with at-risk teens in Franklinton to share God’s truth and to equip them with the tools to experience real life change.” It runs a center on Chicago Ave.
The teen grew up largely in a single parent home and in an area plagued by violence. His house has been broken into on numerous occasions, and he has witnessed several people die from gunfire — including a close friend.
“My community — it’s been a struggle, living every day around gangbangers and thugs,” Samuel, a senior at West High School in Columbus, told the Dispatch. “You could get killed in a drive-by or just walking down the street.”
He grew up in poverty, has dealt with health issues that once required hospitalization, and has struggled with anxiety and depression, writing an essay last year about suicide and how staff should take time out to check in on students’ mental health.
In the midst of his challenges, Samuel has pressed on to overcome. For the past five years, he would walk a mile and a half to the Columbus Metropolitan Library to study at the homework help center when it opened at 3 p.m. and then head home after closing — a three mile round trip.
“The kid has tremendous perseverance, and he just keeps going,” Kelly Young, one of the helpers at the library, told WGN-TV.
Samuel was consequently elated when — because of his stellar grades — one-by-one, colleges began to accept him, starting with The University of Akron. He has also received acceptance letters from Bowling Green State University, Capital University, the University of Cincinnati, Columbus State, Denison University, Ohio Dominican University, Ohio University, Otterbein University, Wittenberg University, Ohio State University and Youngstown State University.
And best of all, the scholarships he was being offered made going to school nearly at no cost to his family.
Samuel has decided to attend the Fisher College of Business at Ohio State University in Columbus.
“I never would have achieved it without God, my family, my friends and this environment I have around me,” he told WGN-TV.
“There’s always going to be a challenge or an obstacle that you’re going to have to overcome or grow out of,” Samuel stated. “But as long as you keep true to yourself and have faith and persevere so that you can overcome it, then you will.”
Psalm 37:3-5 reads, “Trust in the Lord and do good, so shalt thou dwell in the land and verily thou shalt be fed. Delight thyself also in the Lord, and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.”