Students Speak Out | KERA News

Students Speak Out

Teachers have a huge responsibility as they prepare students for the future. Tonight, you’ll hear how they do that in Teaching the Future, the second installment of a two-episode television series focused on education in North Texas.

Stella M. Chavez / KERA News

Jarrell Brown made an impression last month as one of the stars of Student Speak Out: A KERA American Graduate Special. During the hourlong TV show, he and five of his peers asked each other questions and talked about what it takes to graduate from high school.

What does it take to finish high school? In this hour-long special, you’ll meet six North Texas students tackling this topic. Four of the students will describe the odds they’ve had to overcome to graduate while two are still trying to finish.

If you missed it on KERA TV Wednesday night, you can watch the entire show online. We’d also like to hear from you. Share your thoughts in the comments below or on Twitter using #studentsspeakout.

Mayra Millan is the daughter of a single mother. And they’re tight.

So when Mom was diagnosed with congestive heart failure a couple of years back, “I was devastated,” Mayra tells KERA’s Krys Boyd. “The good thing is, I didn’t have to learn the hard way. She’s doing fine now.”

Ashley Tilley wasn’t completely alone. She had her older sister along at least some of the time while she was bouncing around the foster care system. Her mother was coping with a mental illness, so Ashley had to come to terms with a new normal.

She tells KERA’s Krys Boyd that she and her sister are “just now talking about it ’cause it’s a shock…. You think it’s normal until you see other people and then it’s not.”

Scottie Gipson wants to own his own business. And after dropping out for three years, he now knows he’ll need to finish high school and go to college to accomplish that goal.

Scottie didn’t have a very stable life as a kid. His father’s been in and out of prison; he says his mother didn’t really seem to care whether he went to school or not. Scottie dropped out at 15 and began using and selling drugs to make ends meet.

When Prabhesh Patel was 5 years old, his father was killed in a car accident that also severely injured his mother. “She went into a coma for about three months,” he tells KERA’s Krys Boyd. “She couldn’t remember my parents or my dad, or really that I was even her son, which was a little scary.”

As his mom recovered, Prabhesh poured his energy into school and work. He graduated from Fort Worth’s South Hills High School last spring, and he’s now on a full scholarship at Texas Christian University.

Jarrell Brown is an achiever, and even after meeting him you might not know just how difficult it was for him to get good grades, play sports and win college scholarships.

Brought up in a tough neighborhood, Jarrell worked hard in school, was elected  president of his senior class at Dallas’ South Oak Cliff High School and earned a full ride to Howard University in Washington, D.C., where he’s just started his freshman year.

Leslie Beltran didn’t think she’d ever graduate from high school. After she got pregnant at 15 and dropped out, she tells KERA’s Krys Boyd, “Education really didn’t cross my mind. It didn’t seem as important to me as having the baby.”

Everyone agrees that graduation is a crucial milestone on the path to adulthood. And according to a recent Education Week report, the national graduation rate has actually increased to nearly 75 percent – a level not seen since the 1970s.