Daivon Reeder, a 22-year-old from Detroit, wasn’t going to let naysayers control his fate.
When he was preparing to start Eastern Michigan University four years ago, his stepfather told him there was no point in going to orientation because he wasn’t going to graduate.
“I’m a black male from inner city Detroit; sadly it wasn’t the first time I’ve been doubted or told I couldn’t do something,” Reeder told The Huffington Post. “When he said that to me, I had two options: to believe it or to make my own path.”
Reeder, the eldest of four, decided on the latter.
He began college in 2013 and despite challenges, like last-minute cram sessions and temporarily losing his scholarship, he pushed through.
Reeder told HuffPost that his younger siblings and mother, who struggled to provide for them, inspired him to work hard.
“They drove me,” he told HuffPost. “I wanted to provide a better example and life for them.”
On Thursday, just days before his graduation, Reeder decided to reflect on his accomplishment by tweeting out a photo of him in his cap and gown with the caption: “My step dad told me it was pointless to go to orientation, I wasn’t going to graduate.....4 years later he in jail & I’m well....”
The tweet soon went viral, receiving over 602,000 likes and 148,000 retweets.
“I honestly didn’t expect people to respond how they did,” Reeder said. “I’m still kind of shocked.”
Reeder graduated with a degree in criminal justice and a minor in military science on Saturday. He told HuffPost he spent the day celebrating with his family.
“It was an accomplishment for us all,” he said.
Though the response from his viral tweet has been overwhelming for the recent grad, Reeder is happy his story is being told.
“I have the opportunity to influence so many people,” he told HuffPost. “But honestly, I’m just getting started!”