DALLAS — You don't have to look hard to find critics outspoken about the quality of education offered by the Dallas Independent School District. So here is a success story.
It's the story of one student's journey from impossible odds in South Oak Cliff to the stage at Harvard Business School, where on Wednesday he delivered the speech of his life.
The story of Casey Gerald could have been based on his father, Rod Gerald, star quarterback in the late 70s for Ohio State. But it's not; Casey Gerald's story is his own.
The story of the kid abandoned by his dad, raised by his grandmother and sister, and then — against all odds — being accepted to Yale University.
It's a story crafted within the walls of South Oak Cliff High School, where his teachers not only believed in him, they propelled him.
"There was no doubt about it — he stood out from the crowd," said German teacher Cynthia Hershkowitsch.
"I knew that he would excel in all of his endeavors,” said AP English teacher Carolyn Willis.
“Anything that he touched turned to gold," said another of Gerald’s teachers, Annette Lindsay.
So none of them was surprised to see on stage Wednesday giving Harvard Business School's graduation-eve, Class Day student address about overcoming tremendous odds and fears.
"This fear to go harder and grow higher, so see my journey from Oak Cliff, Texas to Yale,” Gerald told the audience at Cambridge, Massachusetts on Wednesday. “It was a chance to leave behind all the challenges I had known."
From South Oak Cliff... to Yale... to Wall Street... to a series of enterprises — including the creation of his own non-profit, the nationally recognized MBAs Across America — and now to Harvard's stage.
Some might say Casey Gerald has arrived. Yet Gerald says his journey has just begun.
"With the love of those who raised us, with the lessons of those who taught us, with the strength of those who stand beside us as we face what lies ahead, we will say, let us begin,” he concluded.