She was black, a divorced high-school dropout, living in a public housing project in Paducah, Kentucky, with four children under eight. The mother was in a seemingly hopeless situation. However, a wise man once said there are no hopeless situations, only some people who lose hope in their situation. Rochelle Johnson did not lose hope, so she went to bat for herself and her children and changed the odds.
First, she recognized her own educational deficiencies and determined that her children were not going to have some of the problems she had in school. She enrolled her children in a readiness class to prepare them for the first grade. Was it tough? Absolutely! Ms. Johnson realized that a dependable income was a must and one job with her limited education was not enough, so during the day she worked as a teacher's aide and street-crossing guard, and at night as a cleaning lady. Her work day started at seven in the morning and lasted until midnight. Despite this schedule, she still managed to provide stability in her childrens' home life. Many times she was tired and discouraged, but her children's continued success at school would always revitalize her.
The results were spectacular. Barbara, the eldest, and brother Earl, went to the University of Kentucky. Younger brother, Greg, earned a straight-A grade average in high school and was a presidential scholar. He and his mom were entertained by President Reagan at the White House. Greg was also a National Merit Scholar and his high school's first ever black valedictorian. He won a scholarship to Brown University to study medicine. The youngest one, Brad, duplicated Greg's performance in high school and accepted an appointment to West Point. Greg summed it up best when he said that his mom had set a great example and "inspired us with her stamina." When you apply an unbreakable will, a vision and hard work, that's an unbeatable combination. Give it a try and I'll SEE YOU AT THE TOP!