Reginald Benbow knows his story is the exception rather than the norm – and he plans to continue working to change that after he graduates May 22 from the University of Virginia's College of Arts & Sciences.
The Baltimore native grew up in a poor neighborhood, his mother working and raising two boys while his father served nine years in prison. Crediting his mother and his fifth-grade teacher, especially, for his educational success, Benbow will return to the city this fall in the Teach for America program.
"I want to ensure that youth from low-income communities like me receive an excellent education in order to achieve their goals of college admission and personal success," he wrote in applying for his teaching post. "Every day, failing education systems across the nation impede the success of children from low-income backgrounds, leaving them at a disadvantage compared to their higher-income peers.
"I was always motivated by a desire to transcend my surroundings and succeed," Benbow wrote. "That drive, which was nurtured by my mother, who dreamed of a better life for her sons, and by caring teachers, propelled me to the University of Virginia."