By now, we’ve all heard about Richard “Tre” Jenkins, the teen that went from homeless to Harvard. He has been featured on CNN , The Root, Ebony, The New York Post and countless other news outlets. When CNN asked his mom, Quiana, if she was surprised, she said, “No, I always knew he would get in any school he wanted to attend.” Richard was nicknamed “Harvard” by bullies for being a bookworm. Now, he is going to the same Ivy League school on a full scholarship. Jenkins recently graduated from Girard College, a boarding school in north Philadelphia, and he was the 2018 valedictorian.
With all of the pomp and circumstance regarding “Tre”, we were so delighted to find out that his MOM is an active Blended and Black community member! She’s been a part of #TheFam for quite a while and I had no clue of how much of a big deal she is. When her close friend Aesha Shabazz let me know that The Harvard Mom’s story should be heard, we set up an interview. I must say, Quiana is the epitome of humility. She did not want any recognition and she is not fond of tradition, so we decided to not share her last name. When I explained to her that other parents should know what she did to help her child find success, she was compelled to share.
Quiana and I sat down for a conversation on womanhood, mothering and all things in between.
Describe your educational experience as it relates to how you envisioned becoming a mother.
I was educated in the School District of Philadelphia from grades 1 through 12. I attended public schools all of my life. From a young age, my intelligence was seen and acknowledged. So I was in Academics Plus (accelerated) classrooms during my elementary school years. I was also in the Mentally Gifted (MG) program. I was in MG classes in elementary, middle school as well as in high school.
In college, I majored in psychology. I attended West Chester University of PA as a Board of Governor’s Scholar right after graduating from Central High School in Philadelphia, PA.
How have modern practices of public education, considering your own experiences, shaped your outlook and approach to your children’s academic journey?
What 3 parenting principles guide your journey?
Tell us about Quiana, Richard, Ray & Corey?
Do you aspire to have more children?
Please share your experience of finding yourself homeless…what does homeless, in such an affluent society, look, sound, smell, taste and FEEL like?
What kept you sane? Can you articulate your phenomenal RESILIENCE?
How did you do it Quiana? How did you persevere and overcome this life to realize your very own customized American Dream?
My optimism has truly served me well. It was never a time when I didn’t think that things would not improve for me. Troubles come, but they do not last! Life is a like a roller coaster. Sometimes you’re up and sometimes you’re down. Learn to ride all the waves of life with grace and a smile, and never, ever give up hope.