Society may make predictions, but only I can determine what I can or cannot do.
BA in Education Studies,
Cedric Lenox of Citrus Springs, Florida is living proof that determination can produce extraordinary results. “When I was younger, I was labeled an ‘at-risk’ child because I grew up in a single-parent home, I was the tenth child, and I struggled academically in school. I had a school psychologist tell me I would never graduate from college because of my challenges. I let those words and many other labels stick with me throughout my adult life.”
Fortunately for Cedric, there was one teacher who recognized the damage of such labels. “Mrs. Wisdhal inspired me to do my best. She told me to not allow those labels to stick with me.” With Mrs. Wisdhal’s encouragement, Cedric enrolled in community college after high school, but dropped out after two years. “I knew I shouldn’t, but I still believed the labels.”
Cedric spent the next five years in the professional world - he worked in the school system, in camp services, in juvenile correction, and as a residential substance abuse counselor for adolescents. Like many adults, Cedric soon realized that in order to progress in his career, he would have to return to college. “The doors were a challenge to open without my degree.”
In April 2008, Cedric spoke with an Ashford University Admissions Counselor, who helped him enroll in the Bachelor of Arts in Social Science with Education concentration online degree program*.
Cedric’s decision to pursue higher education was met with enthusiasm and support from his family. “My mom had always instilled in me that I needed a college education because she had to work hard labor to take care of us kids. Some of my siblings are going back to college, as well - one of my baby sisters is working on her Master’s degree in Leadership Education, my middle sister is working on her Bachelor of Arts in Criminology, and my brother is pursuing his Bachelor of Arts in Human Services.” Cedric told us, “I hope to become a teacher so I can work with troubled youth; eventually, I want to open up my own school for at-risk youth.” Cedric also spoke of his plans to pursue a graduate degree in social work and counseling.
In addition to working with adolescents in a school setting, one of Cedric's aims is to become a motivational speaker like his heroes Marva Collins and Ron Clark. Cedric took the first step to accomplishing that goal when his article, “Say Yes to Your Dreams,” appeared in the September 2010 online issue of IN Teen Magazine.** In the article, Cedric discusses the reality of drug use among adolescents and encourages young people to pursue their dreams of success.
“I encourage everyone to get an education, no matter what your age, disability, or background. People will tell you it cannot be done, but all it takes is imagination, a dream, and a plan. There will be obstacles. There will be mistakes. But with hard work and beliefs, there are no limits!”
In December 2010, Cedric took another step toward his goal of opening a school for at-risk youth. He moved from Florida to South Carolina to accept a position as a field instructor at Camp Long, a year-round camp for at-risk youth sponsored by the Department of Juvenile Justice. “I am helping the teen boys understand that they still have a future.” Cedric has also had the opportunity to do some public speaking. “I told eighth-graders about my story - how I struggled in school and had very low self-esteem. I told them to dream crazy dreams and to never give up in life.”
Cedric graduated in 2011 at age 28. We wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors!
*This program was replaced with the Bachelor of Arts in Education Studies.
**Cedric Lenox, “Say Yes to your Dreams”, IN teen Magazine, September 2010, page 51, http://www.inteenmagazine.com/issues/1/27.php.