Watch — 74 Student Profile: Troy Simon’s Incredible Journey From New Orleans to Yale

November 20, 2017

Troy Simon was a student in New Orleans when the levees broke during Hurricane Katrina. He fled a life in the margins to a temporary school in Houston where, in fifth grade, he learned how to read for the first time.

When he finally returned to school in the newly formed New Orleans Recovery School District, he confronted some difficult choices. “When I saw myself going the wrong way, and I saw my friend dying,” Troy says, “I realized that I was gonna die and I had to make a decision.”

Troy focused on his studies with support from the nonprofit College Track New Orleans. Eventually, Troy matriculated into the first graduating class at Sci Academy, a public charter high school in New Orleans that emphasized college readiness.

Troy went on to graduate with honors from Bard College. He is currently a graduate student at Yale Divinity School, where he plans to gain skills that he can bring back to his community in order to help others.

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Troy’s inspiring story, told here in his own words, is about beating the odds — and the power of a 21st-century education to change lives.

Editor’s Note: This video was shot and produced by The 74’s James Fields.