Malcolm Myatt

My early high school years were a tremendous struggle. Why? Because I listened to what the negative influences around me were saying: there’s no point in finishing school, education isn’t for people like us, and opportunities in life are limited anyway. As a result, I failed to apply myself and failed nearly all of my academic classes. My hopes of someday going to college were dimmer than my chances of graduating from high school.
In April 2009, a close friend’s tragic death served as a vital wake up call for me.
It made me realize that those negative influences I’d listened to were all wrong. Not only was there a point in finishing school, but not getting my high school diploma greatly limited my chances of living the positive and rewarding life I wanted to live – and it drastically increased my chances of becoming a fallen statistic.

I realized that, although many of my friends really believed education wasn’t for people like us, they were still receiving an education -- one that promoted violence, illegal activities, and death at an early age -- and that is not the kind of education I wanted. I also realized that, although opportunities might truly be limited, limited opportunities were better than none at all.

My friend’s death inspired me to do what was necessary to change my life.
The painful event made me realize I had to get away from all the negative influences around me, so I enrolled in another school -- one with a curriculum that addressed my academic deficiencies, and still provided me with a chance to graduate on time. I changed my study habits; I buckled down and studied instead of watching hours of television. I rediscovered the love of learning, and especially writing, that I’d possessed as a younger student. And, I actually started completing and submitting assignments. More than anything, I changed my attitude about the importance of education. In doing so, my grades improved from F’s and D’s to A’s and B’s, my test scores were consistently in the State of California’s 95th percentile for high school students, and I completed my high school education three months before my graduating class.
Thanks to my participation in C.H.A.I.N. Reaction Inc. a job provided to me by Michael Bennett, Dorothy Smith and the Los Angeles Urban League UYEP Program. I gained work experience, career guidance and a greater sense of responsibility, independence and discipline. I am currently a student at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, majoring in education, with hopes to someday work to inspire struggling students to rise above their negative influences, realize that there is truly a point in finishing school, education is for everyone, and opportunities in life are as limitless as their willingness to change their lives, work hard, and prepare for them!