Winning Essay by Keith S. From Indiana Attending IUPUI
Nothing is more inspiring and motivating than to actually know someone who looked adversity in the face, and trampled it underfoot. As a young boy, my grandfather made the decision that he was not going to allow anyone, other than himself, determine his path in life. As a youth, he recognized that being African American in the South, would not allow him a favorable future. He established in his mind that he was leaving, and that is exactly what he did. My grandfather was an honorable man who did unexpectedly amazing things for himself and his family.
My grandfather, Willie Gene Harris, who passed away in 2011, was born on a plantation in rural Gay, Georgia, in 1927. He left the plantation at the age of 11, searching for a better future. He was one of ten children. He managed to survive many obstacles along his journey, due to prejudice and segregation, and eventually made his way to extended family in Ohio. In his lifetime, he worked several jobs, raised a large family, put all of his children through college, trained an Olympic Gold Medal winning boxer, started a business, and left an incredible legacy for his family.
A a young adult he settled down and raised a large family in Canton, Ohio. My grandfather had a total of nine children. Although he never obtained anything higher than a third grade education, he made certain that higher education was a priority for all of his children. He knew first hand how difficult it is to realize your dreams without an education. He did everything in his power to help each of his children secure a college education. 
 As well as maintaining a job, my grandfather trained boxers. He trained my uncle, Ronnie Harris, as a boxer. While being trained only by my grandfather, my Uncle Ronnie won many titles, including the Olympic Gold Medal in light weight boxing at the 1968 Summer Olympics. My grandfather retired from Republic Steel in the 1970’s. After retirement, he continued to seek out, and train young boxing talent. Additionally, he and my Uncle Ronnie started a business that my uncle continues to run. My grandfather always sought to achieve excellence in everything he did. He also expected the same from his children.
Knowing how difficult it was for my grandfather’s generation of African Americans to overcome circumstances, and succeed, makes me proud and motivated to do well. My grandfather managed to claim success with no formal education past the third grade. My family history, has encouraged me to strive to achieve my personal and educational goals. Because of what I know about my grandfather, I will not take the opportunities I have for granted. Willie Gene Harris, has been an inspiration to many, and has helped me appreciate where I come from, and the importance of being a man of integrity, resolve, and dedication. My grandfather set a high standard to be met for many generations to come.

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