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Travon Willis

Description: Introduction music with the blue OTAN logo appearing on a black screen. The music continues as California Adult Education Students Succeed 2012 is shown on screen with a logo. As the music plays a picture of Travon Willis, Fremont Adult and Continuing Education, is shown. He is a young African-American male. He has short dark hair and a goatee. He is wearing a peach-colored shirt, a multi-colored tie, and a yellow sweater. His ears are pierced.

Description: While Travon speaks a video is shown of Travon, 2 females, and a male sitting around an outside table talking. Two still photos are shown of Travon. The first picture shows him as a toddler. He has curly hair, large brown eyes, and a very happy smile. The second photo shows Travon when he is approximately 10 years old. His hair is short. He is wearing a yellow jacket over a pale yellow shirt and smiling.

Travon Willis, CAESS 2012 Honoree: Well growing up my mom was on drugs so my grandmother raised me and my three sisters. And my mom was kind of in and out of our lives so it was difficult not having her around. My father, he was not in my life as well. He went to prison when I was young, about two years-old and he died when I was 10 in prison. So not having him around was also tough but my grandma, she was the backbone of the family. She held it together.

Description: Venus Gist is an African-American female. She wears her hair pulled up and back, away from her face with a scarf-like headband. She is wearing a cream-colored blazer with a blouse underneath. She is wearing a cross necklace and dangly earrings.

Description: While Venus speaks a video is shown of Venus and Travon walking outside the school.

Venus Gist, Patten University Psychology Student: You know having circumstances where everyone can't have, you know, in life two parents in a household, and how do you survive that? And he did having a grandma there who came in and, you know, gave him that parental guidance

Description: While Travon's interview continues a video is shown of him and an African-American female sitting outside, looking at pictures and talking.

Trevon: I was always a good student. It's just I got caught up with the wrong crowd, hanging with the wrong people, trying to fit in. You know peer pressure as a teenager is tough so. I think about 9th grade; I took summer two months early and I never went back.

Description: Kerry Salzer is a Caucasian male. He has short blonde hair and a goatee. He is wearing a pin-striped shirt and tie.

Description: While Kerry speaks a video clip is shown of Travon and others sitting around an outside table and talking.

Kerry Salzer, High School Learning Center Instructor, Fremont Adult & Continuing Education Center: Travon is someone who's self-made. There's no doubt about it. You know he had a hard go when he was younger and went through some trying times and then by the time he got to our school he had turned things around and had the right plan, the right attitude.

Description: Donya Willis is an African-American female. She has long, straight, black hair. She is wearing a black and pink plaid shirt and small stud earrings.

Donya Willis, Wife: He's always been a hard worker. You know he had his own business; Landscaping and, you know, just doing a number of things, a number of jobs.

Description: While Travon speaks a video is shown of Travon and others sitting around a table outside. They are talking.

Trevon: I came to Fremont Adult, signed up and when I had my little orientation the lady was like 'what do you want to do? You want to get your GED or you want to get your high school diploma?' She said if you get your GED it'll take you six months. She said if you want to get your high school diploma it's gonna take you about two and half years. And I was like 'I want to get my high school diploma. I want the real deal.'

Description: Steven Giudici is a Caucasian male. He is wearing a blue pinned-striped shirt with a red, gray, and black striped tie. He has a shaved head.

Description: A video of Steven and Travon walking down an outside corridor at the school is shown while Steven speaks.

Steven Giudici, Principal, Fremont Adult and Continuing Education Center: He was taking advantage, very quickly, of every option that we developed for our students. We're very fortunate to have classroom-based instruction. He was coming to morning classes, afternoon, evening classes. We had a high school learning center; a self-paced learning environment and he was taking advantage of that to accelerate his progress towards achieving his diploma.

Description: Peggy Torres is a Caucasian female. She has short curly light-colored hair. She is wearing a striped blouse.

Description: While Peggy is interviewed a video of Peggy and Travon walking outside and talking is shown.

Peggy Torres, High School learning Center Instructor, Fremont Adult and Continuing Education Center: When he came to us his writing skills were a bit behind. He was really only a freshman in standing when he came so he had like three years of high school work to do.

Description: A video is shown of Travon and Donya looking at photographs from Travon's graduation ceremony.

Donya: Took him two years, but, you know, he did…we had a lot of trials, you know, and tribulations but he got through it.

Description: A photograph is shown of Travon in his cap and gown with another male also wearing a cap and gown. A video camera zooms in on his diploma of graduation from Fremont Adult High School and then focuses on his Bachelor's degree from Patten University.

Trevon: That early training at Fremont really prepared me and gave me the confidence I needed to know I could succeed on the next level. And from Fremont Adult I went to Patten University, four years, got my Bachelor's in Clinic Psychology and after that I wanted to further my education so I applied to graduate school, to a Doctorate program.

Description: Framed awards are shown covering a table. A Video is shown of Travon speaking at the graduation ceremony. He is wearing a maroon cap and gown with a white collared shirt. While Donya speaks a family photograph is also shown of Travon, Donya and 5 children. They are posing with Minnie Mouse.

Donya: He's achieved a lot. He has a lot of awards from Patton University and with him getting his diploma here they wanted him to speak at the ceremony, you know, they choose him and you know, he'd get different scholarships. He's doing good and I 'm just, I'm very proud of him. He's a role model for the kids and that's the number one thing I love about Travon being in school, because it affects our children.

Description: While Travon's interview continues a video clip is shown of Travon and his wife outside talking and laughing.

Treyvon: So I think me going back to school has tremendously affected my children as well as my circumstances with my entire family. I think it's been a blessing.

Peggy: It's been, really, an honor and a privilege to work with him as a student and to see his success now.

Description: While Venus speaks a video is shown of Travon and Venus sitting at a round table in an outside seating area. They are having a conversation and laughing. Music plays in the background while the remaining interviews are conducted.

Venus: He's going to make a difference in a lot of people's lives, he is. I mean a young black male with his Doctorate degree, you know, helping his people and all people; it's very powerful. It doesn't happen every day.

Description: A video is shown of Travon receiving his diploma at the graduation ceremony.

Treyvon: My advice for students coming in to Fremont Adult or any adult school for that matter is just to be focused. Know what you want, know what you're after. This is going to better your life. This is going to better your family's life and just know that you're accomplishing this for you. Nobody can ever take this away from you.

Description: As the story ends a video clip is shown of Travon and his wife, Donya, kissing.

Special Thanks to Fremont Adult & Continuing Education, Fremont USD.

Producer – Blair Roy; Director – Douglas Rennie. Produced by OTAN,, 2012