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Homeless to honors

Positive school spirit drives Brown’s success at Clay High

By Don Coble don@claytodayonline.com
Posted 4/27/23

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – It’s easy to pick Dwight Brown out of a crowd. He’s the one with the blissful smile.

It wasn’t always that way for the Clay High graduate-to-be. Instead of immersing …

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Homeless to honors

Positive school spirit drives Brown’s success at Clay High


Posted

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – It’s easy to pick Dwight Brown out of a crowd. He’s the one with the blissful smile.

It wasn’t always that way for the Clay High graduate-to-be. Instead of immersing himself in his hopeless past, Brown was determined to find a positive path to success.

And nothing will erase that enthusiasm. Or his determination.

“For a year, I lived in a homeless shelter in Jacksonville,” Brown said. “We kind of moved around a lot in my childhood because my mom couldn’t stay in one house, you know. There were nights I slept in the car.”

Unlike his classmates in Duval County, Brown wore shoes handed down from an older brother. He washed his clothes in the sink or bathtub and often wore the same outfit for days at a time.

“I stunk,” he said. “I noticed as a young child the differences between me and my other classmates. I knew there was a difference between how they lived and how I lived. I just kind of thought to myself, I don’t want to be stuck in this position. I want to move on past this position that I’m in. I just don’t want to be homeless anymore.”

Brown eventually moved in with his father and stepmother in Clay County. Suddenly, he found stability, and with it came the decision to surround himself only with positive, happy people.

“I just flourished here. I liked the education system,” he said. “It was different than Duval County. I had better influences, and I just flourished.”

Brown will graduate with honors and a four-year scholarship offer from the University of Florida. He wants to become a lawyer, judge or politician.

“This isn’t supposed to be where I am. It’s so rare, but I made it,” Brown said. “I just tried to stay inspired by my past. I know where I once was. I’m not going back.”

Brown said academics and “school spirit” helped drive his success. The more he excelled, the harder he worked.

“I had a great support system and a certain level of spirit to want to push as hard as I did to make myself become who I am,” he said.

Brown became the school’s 2022 Prom King and this year’s Homecoming King.

“I’ve got good friends around me,” he said. “I always make sure I have good influences around me – people who also want a future for themselves, because if you don’t want a future for yourself, what are you going to do to inspire me?”

Brown’s zeal for life defies his past. Instead of finding a place to sleep or where to get his next meal, Brown now worries about future college exams and how far his enthusiasm for success will take him.