Keon Pearson

Hometown: Toledo, OH

high school: St. Francis de Sales

college: Harvard University

MAJOR: Human Evolutionary Biology

Keon Pearson was born on January 18, 1993 in Toledo, Ohio. His father, who was 15 at the time Keon was born, contested his paternity, and was not present at Keon’s birth. Keon’s mother, Tracey, aged 17 at the time of his birth, was a foster child who vowed never to be separated from her son. Tracey and Keon lived in shelters until settling down in the projects of Toledo.

When Keon was 5 years old, his mother moved him and his younger brother to a house in a better neighborhood, so that he would not have any exposure to the crime and grimness that plagued the projects. Fortunately, the new house was next door to his great-grandmother’s house. Keon’s great-grandmother, Norma, was thus a major influence in his mental and emotional development. She cared for her grandchildren when Tracey was working or had been laid off her job. Norma instilled in Keon the importance of treating everyone with love and respect. She demonstrated compassion in everything that she did, and showed that through service to others, one can attain self-fulfillment.

Keon discovered early in his life that education was the ticket out of his impoverished circumstances. His mother recalls Keon’s zeal for academic challenges, and states that she never had to urge him to complete his assignments: he did his work for his own fulfillment.

Keon’s zeal for education was the cause of major disputes with his mother. Tracey wanted to enroll Keon in a failing district school; Keon understood that such a decision would lead to disaster. Despite Keon’s objections, Tracey enrolled him in the aforementioned school. There, Keon was chased, bullied, and harassed because he focused on education rather than popularity. He took it upon himself to request a transfer, and vowed to take his education into his own hands from that point on.

Keon Pearson is now a senior at St. Francis de Sales High School. While at St. Francis, Keon has been recognized each year for having the highest grade point average in his class and will be the first African American to valedictorian in the more than 55 year history of the school. He plays the trumpet in the St. Francis pep, concert, and marching band. He is also a member and president of Junior State of America, the National Honor Society, and the African American club. He is captain of the school’s quiz bowl team and a member of its mock trial team. Keon is also a regular contributor to The Sojourner’s Truth newspaper. On Martin Luther King Day 2011, Keon delivered a televised keynote address to 3,000 people. His message dealt with the importance of mentorship in the community, and encouraged youth to take charge of their education. Since then, Keon has had the wonderful opportunity to spread his positive message to many youth in his community.

Keon attends Harvard University, majoring in Human Evolutionary Biology with the intention of becoming a cardiothoracic surgeon.

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