Thomas Jefferson HS Siblings Head to Midwest Universities

Thomas Jefferson High School seniors and siblings D’Erik and Dwayne Nelson are both planning to further their education at colleges in the Midwest after graduation.

The pair have already overcome hardships to get where they are today and plan to be the first in their family to graduate college. Dealing with online schooling, several moves, and long trips to school made the siblings more determined.

“We’d have to be at different places throughout Dallas, which made it hard getting to school. We’d have to wake up two or three hours before school started to arrive on time,” Dwayne said. “But for me, it was mostly about how much I love learning. I like challenging myself, so when I wake up, I think, ‘I should go to school today. I really should.’”

Dwayne will be attending Albion College in Michigan on a full-ride scholarship to study computer science with a focus on animation and game design.

D’Erik will go to North Park University in Chicago, Illinois, to major in English and hopes to someday play basketball overseas. D’Erik is on the varsity basketball team at Thomas Jefferson.  

The brothers had perfect attendance and good grades and often took inspiration from each other to work harder.

“He is very smart, and that has always inspired me to be the same, or even better,” D’Erik said. “Most people want to act a certain way around their homeboys or homegirls, but he’s not like that. He doesn’t follow the wave or try to fit in. He does what he wants to and what makes him happy.”

Dwayne said D’Erik’s passion and success were a source of motivation for him as well.

“He’s just a great dude. If you sit back and watch him, even if he’s just playing video games or basketball, it’s just kind of inspiring,” Dwayne said. “He followed his passion, and now he’s getting that opportunity to succeed. And I’m like, ‘Wow, I can do that, too.”

Outside of each other, the siblings said the faculty and staff of Thomas Jefferson also helped them to succeed. 

“It just takes a second to realize that your teachers are more than teachers,” Dwayne said. “They’re people who want the best for you.”

School counselor Arlethia Davis helped the brothers envision their futures and praised their resilience and positive attitudes. 

“When I ask them how they manage, they say they will be okay and have been in worse situations,” Davis said. “They are both extremely humble.”

Even though they will soon be separated by state lines, the pair remain confident in themselves.

“It’s just going to be new not seeing someone I’m so used to seeing,” Dwayne said. “But I think we’ll be fine here.”

Dwayne and D’Erik offered advice to anyone who may be going through similar struggles to the ones they overcame.

“Don’t get discouraged on what you want to do just because of your situation,” the siblings said. “Instead of saying, ‘Well, this is my life now,’ just keep your head up, move forward, and don’t stay in the same place.”

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