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2012 Beat the Odds ® Honorees

We invite you to learn more about our incredible 2012 BTO Honorees.  You may click the following links to watch the students' videos which were shown at our Beat the Odds event in July 2012.

Joshua Jenkins (Lakewood High School, Cuyahoga County):

When Joshua was in sixth grade, his mother broke her leg and was unable to return to work.  His drug and alcohol addicted father was in and out of jail and never played a supportive role in his life.  They were evicted from their home and moved between shelters and homes for several years. They finally gained some stable footing in Lakewood, Ohio until October of 2010, when Joshua’s father called to tell him that his mother had passed away from a sudden heart attack.  Joshua and his brothers were then adrift without a reliable adult in their lives. He has made it his mission to get the best possible education and has maintained a part time job to help raise his two brothers. Joshua is attending Kent State University in the fall, where he plans on majoring in Sports Administration. 

De’Von Jennings (Beechcroft High School, Franklin County):

De’Von’s mother passed away when he was three and for years he lived in his father’s abusive home.  His teenage years were spent in foster care, shuffling from home to home. Throughout his multiple placements, he has seen the foster system fail a majority of his foster siblings. He has witnessed them turn to drugs and alcohol, quit school, and go to jail.  Despite the instability, De’Von has maintained a GPA over 3.5 and has earned 8 varsity letters.  He also spends his time tutoring middle school students and has volunteered for the Healthy Neighborhood/Healthy Families program. His long-term goal is to get a master’s degree in civil engineering.

Indyasia Johnson (Gamble Montessori High School, Hamilton County): 

Indyasia has experienced post-traumatic stress disorder, the absence of her father, and the odds stacked against an African American female from West End Cincinnati raised by a single mother.  She has been held at gunpoint while her father was nearly beaten to death. In addition, her mother has been unemployed for three years and her father is serving a 12 year prison sentence.  She has seven younger siblings.  Since she turned 15 years old, Indyasia has had a job at Kings Island every summer and has picked up second jobs at Popeye’s and Applebee’s. Despite adversity, she always has a smile on her face, has maintained a 4.0 GPA, and volunteers at the Ronald McDonald house and Krohn Conservatory. She plans on attending college and then medical school so that she may become a pediatrician and start a non-profit child abuse prevention organization.

Amber Rohrer (Alliance High School, Stark County):

Amber grew up in a single parent household. Her childhood was chaotic, unstable and filled with abuse. When she was young, her father was deemed unfit and was forced to give up his parental rights. Her mother then married a man who claimed to be religious, but was physically abusive.  In middle school, her stepfather was sent to jail for domestic violence.  Amber’s mother turned to prostitution to pay the bills, and filled the home with drugs, alcohol, and strange men.  Amber’s family was evicted and moved several times, staying in homeless shelters and with family friends.  Amber began to rebel by skipping school and making bad choices. But a family stealing trip to Walmart orchestrated by her mother led Amber back onto the right track. Amber dedicated herself to school and community service.  She now lives in a positive environment with school friends.  Amber’s struggle with her mother has made her realize “that dysfunction is not an excuse to live life in a negative way and is never an excuse to misuse others or break the law.”  Amber currently has a 3.97 GPA, participates in Toys for Tots, volunteers for the humane society and the Special Olympics, and is a member of the National Honor Society.  She plans to earn a master’s degree in psychology and become a licensed alcohol and drug counselor.

Clara Smith (Jane Addams Business Careers, Cuyahoga County):

Clara first came in contact with the foster care system when she was three years old. Her father was an abusive alcoholic and drug addict. Her mother was found incompetent to raise her children. After a year, her parents regained custody. Her father was sober for a time, but then became verbally and physically abusive towards her mother and siblings.  After a while, Clara and her sisters were removed from the home again and then returned.  While in high school, her father fell ill, and she became responsible for many of the household duties. During this time, she became close to her father and in November of 2010 she went to visit him in the hospital when he told her that he was sorry and he was proud of her.  He died later that night.  She has come to understand the importance of education and is excited about her future and college. She currently has a 3.95 GPA, is involved in the Key Club and the National Honor Society.  She has been accepted into the honors program at Cleveland State University, where she plans to complete their pre-law program. She plans to be a lawyer.


2012 Beat the Odds ® Event Program