Take the Stairs

With no affluenza to interfere, Shakria Hall has a full ride to Harvard on a Bill Gates scholarship. She grew up in Mississippi, a state not often put into prestigious rankings, in the town of Bassfield, not widely known even in Mississippi. This year she graduates from public school. 


Her town has a website that summons, “We invite you to come visit our quaint town where you will find a warm and friendly town that will make you feel welcome.” The statistics say the area is 1.081 square miles with an elevation of 456 feet. The population was 315 in 2000 and 228 in 2015 so there is no mad rush to move there. Two claims to fame include (1) sitting at the midway point of the Longleaf Trace, a walking and biking trail built over an old railroad track and (2) having the 2A state football champions for eight years since 1984.  

So how has she pulled this trip to Harvard off? In her own words, she has lived by a saying, “If the elevator to success doesn’t work, you have to take the stairs.”


Shakira has already been taking those stairs as she served as president of several organizations in her school and one statewide office. She is graduating from public school (again with no affluenza problem) as valedictorian this year with plans to study abroad with a major in government and a minor in Spanish before returning to her home state. 

I only know Shakira through the report in the paper and local TV. I live not too far from Bassfield and have been there twice! I will admit to a bit of pride, or maybe more than a bit. Because of my own similar background, I love when young people from Mississippi small public schools do well. 

I hope Shakira climbs many stairs with the finesse that she has practiced, and maybe catches an elevator going up now and then. I would love it if she stays true to her vision and returns home to make a difference. Perhaps she will show other young people where the stairs are and demonstrate how to climb.