Student who collected garbage accepted to Harvard Law

Student who collected garbage accepted to Harvard Law
FILE PHOTO: A Maryland student who worked his way through school as a sanitation worker was admitted to Harvard Law. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

A Maryland student who worked his way through school as a sanitation worker was admitted to Harvard Law. 

For three years, Rehan Staton, 24, was up by 4 a.m. in order to haul trash and clean bins for Bates Trucking & Trash Removal before attending classes later in the day at the University of Maryland, The Washington Post reported

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Staton went from trash hauler to law school through hard work, persistence and the encouragement from an unlikely source -- his colleagues in trash.

“The other sanitation workers were the only people in my life who uplifted me and told me I could be somebody,” Staton told the Post

Staton's life was pretty normal until his mother left when he was 8 years old. 

“My mom abandoned my dad, my brother and I when she moved back to Sri Lanka,” said Staton. “I was probably too young to notice some of the things that happened, but I know it was bad.”

His father worked two and three jobs but the family continued to struggle. Staton also was having trouble academically.

One of his teachers suggested he attend special needs classes. Staton's father got him a tutor, and he was on the Honor Roll by the end of the school year. 

Staton was a talented boxer until a shoulder injury his senior year of high school dashed any notion of a professional career. He applied to college but given his low SAT score was rejected by them all.

So, when he was 18, he started hauling trash.

"When I look back at my experiences, I like to think that I made the best of the worst situation. Each tragedy I faced forced me out of my comfort zone, but I was fortunate enough to have a support system to help me thrive in those predicaments," he said.

Brent Bates, whose father owns the trash company, helped Staton appeal his rejection to Bowie State University. After his eventual acceptance, he was a model student at the school, posting a 4.0 GPA and was involved in a variety of groups. 

He transferred to University of Maryland after two years at Bowie State. He graduated in 2018 and took a job at a national consulting company in Washington, D.C. He excelled and while there took the LSAT and applied to law school.

He starting getting his acceptance letters in March. 

“I felt at that moment (when the letter from Harvard arrived), my brother made every sacrifice worth it,” Reggie Staton said. “He did what he said he was going to do, and that was to get into a top law school.”

Staton was also accepted to law schools at Columbia University, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Southern California and Pepperdine Law, the Post reported.

He will attend online classes in the fall and is expected to be on campus for the spring semester. A GoFundMe account was created to help pay for expenses.

“No one can promise that life will be fair, but if you keep your eyes on the prize, everything will fall into place,” Staton said.