Rachel Jeantel, the last person to speak to slain teenager Trayvon Martin, once made a promise to him that she would graduate high school. She fulfilled that promise last week when she received her diploma from her Miami high school.
The accomplishment was made even more special as Trayvon’s mother attended the event in support of Jeantel. “Her coming is like having Trayvon there saying, ‘You did it. You proved people wrong,’” Jeantel said.
The road to graduation was not an easy one. According to Yahoo News, Jeantel was in her senior year but unable to read or write past an elementary-school level.
Following media backlash ridiculing Jeantel’s dialog, Tom Joyner famously offered the teen a full scholarship the whatever HBCU she chose and assistance with getting to graduation.
It was with the help of the Tom Joyner Foundation that Rachel was able to receive nine months of tutoring, attending 3-hour after-school session five to six days a week. She was also assigned three tutors, a psychologist and several mentors.
“I did it” Jeantel says, “The witness who didn’t know how to speak English knows how to speak English through 12th grade now. I never quit.”
The teen is set to continue working with tutors on a precollege program before enrolling in university. Jeantel says that graduating “is just the beginning of my life.”