Cadet overcomes difficulties, matures during storied college career

Muhammad Ali once said “Champions are made from something they have deep inside them. A desire, a dream and a vision. They have to have last-minute stamina, they have to be a little faster, they have to have the skills and the will, but the will must be stronger than the skill.”

According to a 2010 huffingtonpost.com article, a 50-state report by the Schott Foundation for Public Education revealed that only 47 percent of black male students graduated high school nationwide, and even fewer made it to college.

The same organization released a report stating that while more than half of the young black men who graduated high school in 2010 earned their college diplomas in four years, it would still take nearly 50 years for black men to graduate at the same rate as their white male counterparts.

“For many black men, talent and high school success are not the only things they need to succeed when they attend a predominantly white university. The third factor is grit,” Terrell Strayhorn, associate education studies professor professor at Ohio State University, said.

“Grit” is a dedication to pursuing and achieving a goal, whatever the obstacles and failures along the way.

“The ability to persevere in the face of obstacles is a key to college success for black men,” Strayhorn said.

A man once told me, “You are a parachute holding the battalion back, Worsham.” When you show signs of distress, it is an attitude. When you are fatigued from three hour nights, PT sessions, weekend flights for the international level of your fraternity, Reserve Officers’ Training Corps senior-level events and handling your most important priorities your last semester of school, they say they fear for you when you commission.

The hardest part of the transition from college to the work force are the trials and tribulations faced up to this point. Imagine balancing little and promised income agreed through a contract in return for your obligations. Balancing limited means or resources is difficult when you want to attempt 100 perent but you can only give 40 percent.

The biggest war you face is the war with yourself, wanting to reach your fullest potential every day but only struggling. I could be a lot of places, but college is where I reside. Exceeding most of my peers, I manage the district level of Omega Psi Phi fraternity, which is one of the most influential African American fraternities. I am the top undergraduate leadership of Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas and Oklahoma, and a
candidate for the position of International 2nd Vice- President, held by former undergraduates such as Rev. Jessie Jackson.

I have overcome being raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, where most of my friends were gang members who were raised in poverty, or children of single-mother households. This has given me an appreciation of my blessings, because I too have endured. It is hard to balance accepting your past and preparing for your future. You can appreciate those who uplift you and your own deficiencies while realizing you are not like your peers.

According to a report by the Sentencing Project, a Washington, D.C.-based group that advocates for prison reform, one in every three black men born today can expect to go to prison at some point in their lives.

“The reasons for this discrepancy are widely debated, but the report discourages readers from blaming either the higher-than-average crime rate among blacks and Latinos in the U.S. or the presence of deliberate racism in the criminal justice system,” Huffington Post staff writer Saki Knafo said.

Knafo also said “Blacks are also far more likely than whites to be stopped by the police while driving. The Sentencing Project report largely attributes the racial disparities in both traffic and drug arrests to ‘implicit racial bias’ on the part of the police.”

Last week, Isaiah Christopher Ozuna, 22, of Conway was charged Thursday in Faulkner County Circuit Court with felony second-degree battery, and four counts of misdemeanor hazing.

Ozuna is a good friend and colleague of mine and we were rivals in every Recognized Student Organization, helping each other develop leadership and teamwork. The adversity an African American man can face in just a short amount of time can change your life, while you still compete with your peers to graduate from a predominantly white university.

A year ago, I was reinstated into the ROTC, after losing a scholarship due to a knee injury. I faced adversity coming back and exceeding my peers with a PT score average of 275, surviving Leadership Development Assessment Course (LDAC) and still maintaining a 2.95 GPA, not to mention being named Who’s Who among American College Students.

They may never understand my story but I know the odds I have faced. In order to be a champion, you have to have last-minute stamina, you have to be a little faster and you have to have the skills and the will; but the will must be stronger than the skill.

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