Local woman receives college scholarship despite odds

WEST PHILADELPHIA - July 28, 2011

To say Ramona Jefferson is an inspiration is definitely an understatement. She is a shining example of unyielding courage and determination.

"I said, nothing beats a failure but a try," says Ramona Jefferson.

Ramona Jefferson has been trying and succeeding for awhile now, but she has lost a lot.

She became homeless in 1992, after losing her home in a fire.

"I didn't have anyplace to go, so me and my daughter, we slept in the park," said Ramona.

She fell into addiction, but then her life improved temporarily.

"I got myself together," said Ramona. "I was clean for 11 years when my son was shot and killed. He was shot in the street on Father's Day 2003."

But again Ramona persevered, obtaining a job as a judge's assistant and then a legal secretary. She is currently a security officer at Penn while attending the Community College of Philadelphia part-time.

Ramona was hoping to complete the Justice program. She applied for and received official notification on Thursday of a full scholarship sponsored by her employer, Allied Barton.

Her accomplishments have meant invaluable life lessons to her children.

"Do your best even if its hard, even if you have to struggle sometimes. Life goes on," said Ramona's daughter Simone.

"Never give up, and always do good in school, because in the end, education is the most important thing," said Jasmine Jefferson.

"She is a heck of a person," said Ramona's son Eli. "That's all I can say about her."

And Ramona says what has sustained her through it all is her family, and a poem she came across, by Langston Hughes.

"It goes, 'Well son, I tell you, lifre for me ain't been no crystal stair, but all the time I've been a movin'

on… and sometimes it gets dark, where there ain't no light…'," quotes Ramona, "'and life for me ain't been no crystal stair'."

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