Washington, D.C. native Rehan Staton was among the graduates at Harvard Law School's 2023 commencement ceremony last week, but his journey to that stage was more challenging than most of his classmates. Staton grew up in a poor household and barely graduated from high school. But it turned out, taking a job as a sanitation worker was the first step in turning his life around.
Staton’s coworkers at Bates Trucking and Trash Removal helped him navigate the process of getting into college and he went on to earn a degree from University of Maryland in 2018. While fighting to overcome a mysterious, life-threatening illness in 2019, he studied hard and eventually gained admission into Harvard Law School in 2020. A video of him receiving his acceptance letter from the prestigious school went viral, catching the attention of filmmaker Tyler Perry, who offered to pay Staton’s way through school.
Beyond his own achievements, Staton has shown a deep commitment to giving back, raising $70-thousand for Harvard's janitors and support staff and founding an organization to uplift support staff workers. After graduation, Staton is joining the Paul Weiss law firm in New York City and dreams of one day owning a sports team. There’s no doubt that it was his hard work that got him to where he is today, but Staton knows he didn’t do it alone. "At every point in my life,” Staton says, “I can say it was through the act of someone's reciprocity and the community that I was allowed to get to the next level.”