The Unlikely College Bound Kid - FOX 35 News Orlando

From Anchor Christine Devine

The Unlikely College Bound Kid

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As college kids across the country head back to school an unlikely student is in their mix. You won't know him by sight. He's a good looking polished kid with an abundance of ambition.

College, here he comes!

If you know Darnell you know it's no surprise he's off to Cal State Los Angeles. If you know his back story you also know the odds were against him. By his adoptive mother's own admission "He shouldn't be here. But God had another plan."

In the coldest of terms, you might say Darnell is a child of "the system." Darnell's story will break your heart and warm it all at the same time. As a child he remembers his gang neighborhood. He was taught to steal from the nearby liquor store and from neighbors. At five years old he found a gun under his brother's bed. He'd missed much of school. All that is how Darnell ended up in foster care.

Still, Darnell couldn't forget the grandmother and big brother he left behind. He was scared at night. He wondered if he'd ever see them again. He does not have found memories of his foster homes. There were six or seven foster homes in two years alone. His Christmas gift one year was a box of Oreos.

Those days are a distant memory but still strong enough that Darnell is able to share them in speech. He's an advocate for other children in foster care speaking at black tie galas and in Washington D.C. He was adopted at eight years old by Mary and Arthur Cates and they have nurtured him to this point of success.

As Darnell enters college his history very much plays a role in his future. Darnell is an aspiring filmmaker. He says his childhood helps shape the roles he auditions for and the characters he attempts to portray. Already this chapter has a happy ending. It's believed Darnell is the first male in his family to go to college. Only three to fifteen percent of the kids from foster care go to college. As he steps back onto the campus of Cal State LA he's already beaten the odds.

To learn more about adoption contact DCFS.

Also please feel free to check out our link to Wednesday's Child HERE.

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