The walls of Compton High cannot contain the big aspirations of twin brothers Ralonni and Ramari Taylor who, for as long as they can remember, have dreamed of going to Harvard.
Ramari Taylor, whose goal is to pursue an education in law, has been focused on achieving that goal early on. Why? “Our dad. He watched a lot of Judge Judy and shows that dealt with the law. So I use to watch it with him and that’s really how I got into it. It interests me.”
Ramari says watching shows like Judge Judy and Criminal Minds gave him an appreciation for the law, but he has not chosen what type of attorney he wants to be.
Ralonni Taylor, whose goal is to pursue an education in forensics says that one of the reasons he made this goal is, “my mom does something similar to what forensics do. She cuts stuff too - body parts. But I want to help solve cases.” Their mother is a histologist – she studies human tissue.
And Ralonni’s interest in forensics also stems from watching TV shows with their father.
But their father – a longshoreman who worked in San Pedro – died this past year in work-related accident. The brothers have vowed to turn that loss into motivation that has added fuel to their dream of going to Harvard.
“He use to have us do our homework as soon as we got home from school,” says Ralonni. “And then after that he would have us read, but then he would time us and only give us a certain time, like thirty minutes to read part of a book. After that he would lower the time and expect us to read books much faster. He challenged us and now we get through books a lot faster than we use to.”
Ralonni and Ramari say that their mom does not allow them to watch television or play video games during the week days. Most of their weekly activities consist of studying and bringing their grade point average up. Their mom has been motivating the boys to challenge themselves academically to ensure that college will be in their future.
Ralonni and Ramari agree that paying attention in class, doing the work and listening to teachers is important as they focus on their goals, but Ralonni adds, “trying to do the best work I can and always do it the right way. [To] complete the work how it’s supposed to be completed. Trying to get prepared for tests that are going to affect my grades and make sure I am passing those tests.”
Ramari’s challenges in school include Spanish and AP World History. “It’s a college class. I have to study, I have to read, do notes and study with flash cards and all that.”
Going to college is clearly something these students can accomplish. But why shoot for such a difficult challenge, such as getting into Harvard?
“My big brother has high expectations for us,” say Ramari. Their older brother has made it clear he believes his little brothers can get into Harvard or Stanford or any other elite university.
Compton High School Counselor Heather Hodgson agrees. “I think you have to set your dreams high and shoot for that. And if you work hard enough and you get there wonderful and if not the works going to pay off anyway.”
Compton High School staff offer plenty of support for students like Ramari and Ralonni. The school counselors have access to college information and resources that will better their chances to attend college.
And even though they’re only sophomores, Counselor Hodgson, says, it’s never too early for students to get ready for college, especially if those college plans include the Ivy League.
“Getting them early exposure, the better, especially if they have their eyes set on Harvard. It’s important to have college access programs at their fingertips,” says, Ms. Hodgson.