A 6-mile trek that took 2 hours: St. Louis teen walks to 8th grade graduation

A St. Louis teenager walked more than two hours in order to make it to his eighth-grade graduation. (Source: KMOV)
Published: May. 31, 2023 at 10:32 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - A North City teenager walked more than two hours in order to make it to his 8th graduation. His journey from two ends of the city has led him to secure a full ride for his future.

“If you want something done, you gotta go ahead and do it yourself,” says 14-year-old Xavier Jones.

Jones walked 6 miles from Florissant Avenue to Harris Stowe State University because he was determined to walk across the stage and get his diploma.

“I was going to tell an adult but my grandpa’s car was down. So I was just going to walk there,” he says.

Unbeknownst to his grandpa and the school staff at Yeatman Middle School, Xavier came up with a plan to get there without a ride.

“I looked up Harris Stowe University on Google Maps and then I saw the walking distance and then I said I could probably make it,” Xavier tells News 4.

He recruited his brother and a friend to make the 6-mile journey with him and says getting a drink of water motivated him along the way.

“I wanted to walk across the stage.”

Harris Stowe State University was so moved by Xavier’s determination the institution stepped up and gave him a lift in his quest to further his education. The president tells News 4, this is a reminder of the obstacles a lot of students face in our region.

“Many of our students come with a story and many of our students come with environmental barriers they have overcome or that they are currently overcoming,” President of Harris Stowe University, Dr. Latonia Collins Smith says.

The university presented the teen with a full ride to the university with a presidential scholarship where tuition, books, and fees are paid for.

“I just led with my heart and I followed my heart and my heart said this is a kid that needs a scholarship,” says President Collins Smith.

On Wednesday, the teen received a personal tour of the campus. He hopes to be a Nascar driver after he graduates from college.

“It means that I’m going to do something great and that I finally made it out of the 8th grade,” he says. “There’s a lot of fun stuff you can do at this campus.”

“At the end of the rainbow, there’s a pot of gold. I learned a lot from Xavier that day,” says President Collins Smith.” Even on your worst day keep pressing forward.”