Late boy's mother earns high school diploma

Published On: Jul 09 2013 07:50:13 AM HST

Dawn Harvell's son did not live long enough to graduate from a Baltimore high school. He was killed before his senior year.

She has now earned the very thing he could not, a high school diploma, more than 25 years after she dropped out of school.

Harvell. 42, led the procession, earning her high school diploma on the day her son would have turned 20 had he not been fatally shot two years ago.

"My heart has some joy. I have made my family and friends proud for some of my life's successes," Harvell said.

Harvell was known for standing on the sidelines of a south Baltimore basketball court, even after the death of her son, Marcus. She remained the loyal team mom for the Bayhawks from Benjamin Franklin at Masonville Cove. Her son had been a beloved star player. He and his team were featured in a WBAL-TV 11 documentary, "Rebounding From Loss."

It was Marcus who encouraged his mother to go back to school. She dropped out in 10th grade and said she was a working mother at age 16.

Harvell not only graduated, but she spoke at the graduation

"I stand before you strong, not fearful, in which the staircase of fears are broken down. Believe you can achieve, thank you," she said.

Marcus' basketball coach was there to congratulate Harvell, as was her instructor from the South Baltimore Learning Center, Joseph Lewis, who helped her pass the test, finally, on her third try.

"We've been everywhere -- library, hospital, even McDonald's -- for extra study to make this happen," Lewis said.

"I made it. I'm excited, I really am. I'm excited," Harvell said.

Harvell, who does carpentry work, wants to study computers, mentor, write and inspire.

"Somebody may see your name in big, bold letters in a book one day. Someone might say, 'I could do that.' I want to see my name in bright lights," Harvell said.

The South Baltimore Learning Center is the top performing program of its kind in Baltimore City. This year, they are on track to reach more than 100 graduates. If someone tests at the eighth-grade level or below, all of the classes are free.


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