LEAP Acad. student to attend Ivy League college

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

A young Camden man has overcome some of life's toughest obstacles and has earned admission into two of the country's top colleges! And he has done it at a school in Camden that has a 100% college acceptance rate.

All the students at the Leap Academy Charter School in Camden graduate and go to college and this young man is the first to be accepted to an Ivy League school.

"It had to be the happiest day of my life," said Geheem.

19-year-old Geheem Smith received his acceptance letter from Cornell University last month.

"All I had to do was recognize this symbol and see the word congratulations, and I was overwhelmed," said Geheem.

And if that wasn't exciting enough, he also got an acceptance letter from Georgetown.

What is truly remarkable is what Geheem has been able to accomplish in school without a stable home life.

He has no contact with his biological mother and only recently reconnected with his dad.

"I talk to my father every day," said Geheem. "Every day he calls me; we chat it up. He tells me about his day; I tell him about my day."

Until a year ago, he lived with a cousin but doesn't feel abandoned.

"I know that I always have some place to go whether it's to a friend's house or a relative's house," Geheem said. "I live with my brother at the moment, and his household is my home. It's very comforting there."

Geheem credits his cousin with helping him get serious about school, and LEAP Academy and Khary Golden with the rest.

"There were numerous times I wanted to quit,"said Geheem. "He pushed me more, telling me 'it's meant to happen, it's going to happen. You have to get it done so that it can happen.'"

"I just try to be for the students the type of person I wish I would have had when I was their age," said Khary Golden, Director of the Center for College Access at LEAP Academy.

Khary is also from Camden, and like most there, he too is a first generation college student.

"I am able to build them up in a way that throws out everything they've ever been told about themselves, about college, about their potential for success," said Khary.

Khary acknowledges his efforts to break the mold are not easy because

children and families from Camden have been surrounded by failure their entire lives.

But he and Leap Academy Charter School have proven the process works, and once the students trust the process, success follows.

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