Student Spotlight: Demetris


Student Spotlight: Demetris

Student Spotlight: Demetris 768 384 Champions Empowering Champions


(Editor’s note: Student Champion Demetris Robinson wrote the following account of his life journey for publication in this newsletter. We are grateful to him for sharing his powerful story.)

My name is Demetris Robinson. I am 19 years old and the oldest of three boys. I was born in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, but lived in my family’s hometown of Charleston, South Carolina, for a while. I lived with my granny up there. My family in Charleston are church folks so church was something you had to go to whether you liked it or not. I didn’t like it at first but eventually I started to participate. The church is where I first started singing and playing instruments, and it’s where I was first introduced to the spirit of God.

After some time in Charleston I came back to Florida to live with my mom. She and I were very close. She was a single parent of three boys and she struggled but never showed it in front of me and my brothers. She was a strong woman, a role model to me. She always put others before herself even if she was barely able to do for herself. On the weekends we would cook a big breakfast and invite her friends who lived in the neighborhood. She would open her house to anyone she knew who needed a place to stay. She was a kind-hearted person but made sure no one abused her kindness. As I watched her struggle I told myself that I would succeed in everything I do so that I could eventually provide for her.

She started to get sick during my middle school years. I helped take care of my younger brothers and her. I would sometimes fake being sick so I could stay home and make sure she was okay or just clean up around the house. One day I was in Spanish class when my brother called me. I told my teacher who was calling and she let me step out to answer it. The first thing my brother said was “Momma isn’t moving.” I asked him was she breathing at least and he said “Yes.” I told him to call the paramedics and then I called them myself. I also called my grandma to tell her what was going on.

When I got home from school we went to the hospital and that’s when I found out my mother had suffered a severe stroke. She was hospitalized for a while before my grandma asked for her to be transferred to her house in Fort Lauderdale. It was summertime and my grandma’s sisters were visiting from Charleston. They decided to postpone their departure, but I didn’t know why until July 2, 2016. On that day my momma’s sister took us to hospice. Around 8 o’clock that night I went to use the bathroom and came back to see people outside the room crying. I didn’t understand why until I went in the room. I asked everyone to leave except my brothers. I closed the door. I grabbed my mother’s hand and asked her to squeeze and hold my hand if she was still there. I got a soft squeeze so I started talking and saying all kinds of things. I tried to use my faith to bring her back to full health but it wasn’t working. Eventually she stopped squeezing my hand and I knew right then that she was gone.

From that day forward things became even more difficult for me. I was turning 16 the next month and I had to return to school. When we had the funeral I didn’t cry. I felt it was my duty to console everyone else and I did just that. I put my own grieving aside and helped everyone else grieve. It came back to bite me in the behind though. The end of my sophomore year was the one-year anniversary of my mother’s passing. I was heading to my last final, which was in math, when I started to hyperventilate. I tried to calm myself by sitting near the door of the classroom, but that didn’t help. My math teacher asked what was wrong. She stood me up, saw the state I was in and knew what was going on. She asked one of the other teachers to take me to the clinic, where things got worse. My breathing became harder, my hands started to cramp up and I started to feel hot. I couldn’t speak; every time I tried my words came out slurred a little. They tried to get me to write but I couldn’t open my hands. In the ambulance the paramedic told me that I needed to try and even my breathing. He helped me and eventually my breathing evened and I was able to open and close my hands.

For the rest of my high school career I had the support of friends and teachers who knew my mother. There is one teacher I will never forget. I am going to pay her back some day for everything she did for me. My math teacher became like a mother to me. She made sure that my brothers and I had things we needed for school and that I ate. She did much more than what her position called for, and I’m forever grateful for that.

My grandma took custody of us. We had a social worker, and my grandma had to attend meetings the social worker hosted. At one of the meetings I found out about a conference that was going to be hosted by The 3G Project, a local organization that was created to provide social and emotional and support to young people who had experienced foster care, were adopted or were considered vulnerable. I attended the conference, met some wonderful people and became close with the founders of the organization and one of the speakers. I still talk with them to this day.

I’m now a second-semester freshman at Florida Atlantic University, and I’m so proud of myself. Being in college has been a wonderful thing for me. I’ve made connections with some FAU faculty members and met other kids like me. I have a part-time job in the Student Affairs office. I was introduced to a new campus organization called Champions Empowering Champions. Founded by Dr. Kimberly Dunn, an FAU accounting professor, it made its debut during the 2019 fall semester. I joined and I’m so glad I did. Dr. Dunn, who was in foster care for a short time during her childhood, is able to relate to me and all the other students in the organization. I have made some wonderful new friends and mentors who are helping me with a lot of things.

I have selected a career plan. Music has always been a big part of who I am, along with helping other people. So I have decided to continue doing music as a side thing and work in the medical field as an OBGYN. My major is social work. I want to have that degree/profession under my belt for when I may want to leave the hospital and serve as a social worker for a while. I also want to eventually have my own firm.

I went through many hardships at a young age but I’m grateful for all of them because they helped me become the person I am today. While going through all these things I prayed and prayed. I went back to my faith in God and prayed for help. Although I didn’t get it exactly when I wanted it, it came at the correct time. I know that as long as I continue to put my trust in God He will direct the right people in my life to help me out. I believe that things will continue to work out for me and that my mother would be proud of all my accomplishments.