Getting an education: ‘Do it to change your life,’ speaker advises

by Audrey Thomasson

LANCASTER—His mother was 15 years old when she got pregnant with him. His father figures included a series of men who beat his crack-addicted mom in front of him and threatened him and his siblings.

From his earliest years, he was on his own to get up and dressed, find food to eat and get out the door to school. He repeated the third and fifth grades and was placed in special education classes because of a disability with reading and writing. He dropped out of high school like everyone in his family before him.

“Teachers wanted me to learn about compound fractions when I was just trying to survive,” he said.

An arrest that left him sitting alone in a jail cell was the wake-up call Craig Boykin needed to turn his life around.

“The judge must have seen something in me, because he let me go,” Boykin told students last week at Lancaster high and middle schools.

After getting his GED, he did a stint in the military, which taught him discipline and how to stick to a plan. When he learned he could get $1,300 a month under the G.I. bill just to go to college, he signed up.

But he didn’t stop there. He earned two masters degrees and last year completed course work for a doctorate in adult education.

“It wasn’t easy. I was home every night studying,” while his friends were out having a good time, he said.

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