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Former Sanitation Worker Accepted to Harvard Law
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A former sanitation worker from Maryland who used to clean dumpsters and haul trash to make ends meet is pursuing his dream of going to Harvard Law School — a variation of the “rags to riches” story that comes as a real refreshment in the recent period of gloom and uncertainty.

For three years, Rehan Staton from Bowie awoke before sunrise, would dress in his neon uniform and spend his morning picking up trash, before going to class at the University of Maryland. Oftentimes Staton would sit at the back of the lecture hall, to avoid judgment from his peers as he wouldn’t have time to shower between work and class.

A couple of days ago, in exclusive coverage by the Washington Post, Staton told his tear-jerking and inspiring story saying he has come a long way before getting accepted to Harvard Law School.


The 24-year-old man and his family grappled with financial insecurity, abandonment, and illness after his mother left him when he was eight years old. His dad raised him and his brother Reggie as a single parent without a stable job, and the family of three struggled financially.

“Things just kept falling on us,” Staton told the Washington Post. “My dad lost his job at one point and had to start working three jobs in order to provide for us. It got to the point where I barely got to see my father, and a lot of my childhood was very lonely.”

Staton told the Washington Post his academic journey was full of obstacles, prejudice, and no support from his teachers, who doubted his academic abilities.

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“One of them even called me handicapped,” Staton said.

Given his struggles in high school and low SAT score, Staton had very little hope when he applied to college.

“I got rejected by 100 percent of the schools that I applied to,” he said.

At that point, Staton went to work at Bates Trucking & Trash Removal, without even guessing that this time destiny would intervene, and lead him to college.

His co-workers encouraged him to reapply to college, and the son of the owner of the trash company helped Staton get in touch with a professor at Bowie State University. The professor assisted him with appealing his rejection from the school, and Staton was ultimately accepted.

While Staton’s academic life finally began to flourish, his older brother Reggie Staton, 27, who was attending the Bowie State University at the time, decided to drop out and work at the trash company so he could help financially support his father and brother.

“I got a 4.0 GPA, I had a supportive community, and I became the president of organizations,” Staton said.

As for his brother, he said, “my brother took a job that people look down on, just so people could look up to me,” Rehan Staton said.

Staton transferred to the University of Maryland after two years at Bowie State to complete the remainder of his undergraduate degree.

After Staton graduated from the University of Maryland in December 2018, he took a job at a national consulting firm in the District — the Robert Bobb Group.

Staton took the LSAT and applied to law school. He received his acceptance letters in March. He was also accepted to the law schools at the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia University, Pepperdine Law, and the University of Southern California. He was wait-listed at New York University, Georgetown University, UCLA, and Berkeley.

Staton is starting at Harvard Law School in the fall.

“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.



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