Success Story

High school student overcomes obstacles to graduate with honors: ‘I’ve been through something’

A senior at Southwest High School, McKinlee Hall, overcame several obstacles to earn a good GPA and graduate high school.

He told 13WMAZ, “If anybody in this school been through something, I’ve been through something.”

Throughout school, Hall was engaged in several activities including being an athlete and class officer. However, at home, he endured the challenge of being raised by a single mother who was struggling with substance misuse and he did not know who his father was. Hall nevertheless made the decision early on to provide for himself and his younger sister.

The teenager initially dealt with issues outside of school that affected his behavior and got him in trouble with the law. He recounted, “I had found myself with a group of friends that got me in trouble. So I ended up going to an alternative school.”

He recalled that occasionally he and his family would sleep in the dark and go to school without eating. After a while, he moved in with his aunt, who had a troubled drug past and was soon back on drugs again. That was when Hall decided to change for the better.

“Seeing what my sister was going through, she was hurt and going through the motions, so it was like, I gotta change for us,” Hall said. 

He started focusing on academics, football, and his faith, resulting in a strong senior year and a 3.2 GPA. He attributed his achievement to the encouragement of his peers and teachers at Southwest High. He also carried the memories of his deceased grandma and brother with him.

Reflecting on his journey, Hall stated that he saw the hurdles as necessary for his growth and achievement.

“It taught me self-accountability. It taught me responsibility.” He added, “If you told me five, six, or years ago I’m going to be graduating now with the respect and honors I have, I wouldn’t believe you.” 

Dollita Okine

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