story by Kathryn Vandenhouten photos by Shelia Scott
Darius Scott has big plans for the future. The talented SEHS senior has already done what most people will never do; he has been accepted into an Ivy League school. When it comes to American universities, the Ivy League represents the pinnacle of academic success, and Scott’s recent acceptance into world-renowned Cornell University is a dream come true.
It has been quite a journey, but Scott says his whole high school career has led him to this point and he is proud of how far he has come.
“It started freshman year when my counselor recommended that I try this speaking engagement,” explains Scott. The contest was a Rotary high school speech competition. Little did he know that the contest would lead him to a higher calling.
He decided to speak on the topic of human trafficking, which is a worldwide problem that he wanted to address. “My first year I won second place,” he says. “I was happy that that was my first time speaking at all and I placed.”
The next year, Scott’s speech on human trafficking won first place. Since he began competing in public speaking, he has won multiple speech competitions, including the Rotary Area Exhibition for Metropolitan Savannah and the Ann Owen Oratorical Competition.
Scott certainly has a niche for public speaking, but the subject of human trafficking moved him to action. He didn’t just want to speak about it; he wanted to do something about it.
“I have my own little creative idea. It’s called a “Be Free Bracelet,” and on the outside it has a positive message or theme… and on the inside it has the human trafficking hotline,” he explains. He spends his own money making the bracelets, and has given hundreds of them out at various events. Eventually, he wants to create a website and facebook page to promote his Be Free Bracelets to keep raising awareness.
“I just thought it would be right for me to not just speak about it, but to do something about it as well, so I figured this is a good way to do it,” he says.
Unfortunately, many people don’t know that Savannah and Atlanta have become hotbeds of activity for human trafficking, and everyone can do more to be aware of their surroundings and be on the lookout for suspicious activity. The signs may be difficult to recognize, but he wants to raise as much awareness as he can so people remain vigilant and know there is a hotline to call if someone suspects human trafficking.
He created the bracelets in March, and they have already brought international attention to the cause. A woman from Scotland recently heard about Scott’s Be Free Bracelets, and contacted him in regards to human trafficking. “In her small town, they had just found a human trafficking pimp,” he recalls. It made him realize that human trafficking is not just a “big city” problem and that he has made an impact.
In addition to tackling worldwide humanitarian issues and delivering winning speeches, Scott is also a multi-talented athlete. He plays basketball and competes in track and field, but the past two years he’s been honing his newfound talent: the triple jump.
“I’ve improved my marks so much in the past two years,” he says. “I’ve gone to the Junior Olympics twice. I went to State twice, and I’ve placed at State and Junior Olympics.”
His success did not come easily, though. Last season he even contemplated quitting. “I scratched and fouled out of six consecutive meets, and on that last meet where I fouled out I was contemplating on whether I should stop, whether I should switch events, or am I even athletic enough to play track and field?” he recalls.
Fortunately, he kept going, trained harder, and finally started seeing results. He said it was tedious driving forty-five minutes to Northern Lights Training in Savannah every day during the summer, but it definitely paid off. Last season at the State competition, he jumped a full two feet farther than he had ever jumped before. Not only did that jump set a personal record for Scott, but it also set the SEHS school record for the triple jump as well.
“It’s been a very fun, heartbreaking and rough experience, but it’s taught me a lot of life lessons,” he says. “And it’s taught me a lot of ways to overcome adversity and keep pushing through no matter what.”
Scott recently committed to Cornell University’s Men’s Track and Field Team, and is thankful for the opportunity to compete in the Ivy League. “I’m grateful that I’ve qualified for the track team. For them to recognize me as not just an athlete, but a student who can perform well– I’m very excited.” he says. “Just getting in is the opportunity of a lifetime.”
He says he couldn’t have done it alone. He credits coaches Kim Wilson, Laura Soles and Rosemarie Whyte-Robinson for investing their time training him, Michelle Coburn and Dr. Mark Winters at SEHS, his pastors and church family at the Pentecostal Miracle and Deliverance Center of Guyton, his loving grandparents,and his parents, Roger and Sonja Scott.
“First and foremost, I want to thank my parents. They are my backbone. They support me in everything I do,” he says. “My mother has been a motivator, a prayer… I can’t even explain where I’d be without her right now. My father invested in my dreams. All of the trips, flights, hotels-he was there.”
He also has two brothers, R.J. and Isaiah, of whom he is very proud. He and his younger brother, Isaiah, will be representing SEHS for the 2018 Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Students of The Year program. Every dollar they raise for LLS will count as a vote, and if they raise the most money, they will earn the LLS title of Students of the Year.
Whether they win or lose, the Scott brothers are making an impact in the community, which is the ultimate goal for Darius Scott. “However you can influence the world, find it, and go and connect with other people who you want to be like,” he advises. “Find opportunities to volunteer, find opportunities to make a difference in the community that you’re in now, because you have to start small.”
He encourages students to reach out to their school counselors. They are often an untapped resource. “Counselors have a whole bunch of opportunities that students can get into, but nobody goes and asks about opportunities like that,” he says.
He feels it was no accident that his ninth grade counselor, Yutasha Lloyd, first encouraged him to do that first speech competition. “I think that was the first step in the journey that God was going to take me on, and my spiritual relationship with God has really taught me to humble myself and really just wait on God, because He will elevate me whenever it is my time to shine.”
Scott says his faith plays a huge role in his attitude, service, and his overall success. “Being a Christian, God is the head of my life and He has been leading me down this path.” That path has lead him to serve others, and he plans to major in Biological Science at Cornell and become a Physician’s Assistant.
No matter what path he takes, Darius Scott is sure to achieve success at every turn. With his determination, positive attitude, and work ethic, he is definitely going places. His next stop? The Ivy League.
For more information about Be Free Bracelets or to join or donate to Team Scott for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society fundraiser, contact Sonja Scott at 912-660-4357.