Success Stories

  • Donnell, 2018 Graduate

    The environment at HOPE’s Park Hill Academy made all the difference for Higdon Donell (best known as Donnell). Donnell started at other area HOPE Learning Centers at the end of his elementary school years. These Learning Centers eventually became Park Hill Academy.

    “I was a troublemaker in my old schools and got kicked out,” said Donnell. “But at HOPE, I could sit down and learn at my own pace. I didn’t feel the pressure like I did at my old schools. And I enjoyed the friends I made here.”

    In fact, Donnell and his friend Hector, who graduated in the Class of 2017, worked hand-in-hand and held each other accountable for finishing their schoolwork.

    “You have to be self-motivated to not drop out,” said Donnell. “Earning a diploma is important for a future job.”

    Donnell has gone through many tough family situations. He was in and out of foster care and over the past four years both of his foster parents passed away. Donnell currently lives with his biological parents.

    “At a young age, they (my foster parents) made me feel like a smart kid,” said Donnell. “They were always involved and helped me with my schoolwork.”

    While at HOPE, Donnell has played basketball and football. He has also attended Prom and participated in the HOPE Science Fair and attended several Career Fairs.

    “The activities made it feel like a normal school,” said Donnell. “My favorite event was playing basketball at the Pepsi Center. It was fun and really exciting! I got better at the sport over the high school years I got to play.”

    The future is bright for Donnell. He is interested in pursuing a career in boxing and/or music. He has been working in the music industry with his cousin and written several hip-hop songs. He has also scoped out talent for a music production company. Donnell wants to go to college to earn a music production degree. He also wants to train to be an amateur boxer, a sport he got into in 9th grade. He has always liked to fight, and boxing “allows him to do it in a positive way.”

    His Learning Center community is proud of the example he has set for his peers and the community.

    “Donnell is a living example of fortitude. He has endured many setbacks and difficulties. They never caused him to lose sight of his goals. Donnell has persevered with grace and good humor. He is already a successful young businessman. I am positive that he will continue to learn and be successful. We wish him great success,” said Ms. Amener Williams, Director of Park Hill Academy.