Wed June 5, 2013
College Bound: Debate Champ and Valedictorian Headed To Princeton On Full Scholarship
The school year may be over, but things are just getting started for 17-year-old Destiny Crockett. She graduated from Clyde C. Miller High School in St. Louis with a 4.1 GPA, finished in the top 16 of the Urban Debate League's national competition last month with her partner Cameron Smith, and will be attending Princeton in the fall on a full scholarship.
Crockett will be the first graduate from her high school and the College Bound program to attend an Ivy League school.
College Bound is a St. Louis program which aims to "provide promising high school students from under-resourced backgrounds with the academic enrichment, social supports and life skills needed to apply, matriculate and succeed in four year colleges."
Crockett, whose father died before she was born, says she was taught the meaning of achievement by her mother.
"The first thing I ever read was a Langston Hughes poem called 'I, Too,'" says Crockett. "She told me that if I memorized it then she would pay me $50. And I memorized it, and she did pay me $50."
Crockett also credits her mother for teaching her to be an independent thinker and "not to rely on anybody else to find answers for me or to tell me what I could and couldn't achieve."
Crockett later found her strength in debate - but not before giving sports a try.
"I though cross-country [track] was going to be my thing, but I'm not very athletic and I wasn't really good at it," Crockett says.
She dropped by a meeting for the debate team after practice one day - and kept coming back.
"You never stop learning new things," she says about participating in forensics. "I don't know if I had confidence going in, but I think I'm more confident going out that I'm a good researcher and... a critical reader and a critical thinker."
Crockett and her partner, Cameron Smith, will soon compete in Birmingham, Ala. in the national debate tournament of the National Forensic League. After that, she'll attend college orientation at Princeton University. And what does she plan to concentrate on while there? Education.
"I want to change the way policies are made, and I think that children should be put before politics - and I want to play a role in that," she says.
"I think I've been able to achieve a lot because I have [a] really strong community," says Crockett, who, along with her involvement in the College Bound program, regularly spent time as a volunteer at The Women's Safe House, a domestic violence shelter.
"I get nothing but love and support," Crockett says. "It builds my confidence for when I go on to Princeton - that I know I can do great things."
Follow Erin Williams on Twitter: @STLPR_Erin