Against the odds: Teen overcomes loss, expulsions to graduate high school

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - Trinity Brown’s earliest memories of his father revolve around the outdoors and his quirky sense of humor.

“He would take me out and dig a hole and cover it with grass and stuff,” said Brown. “He was always joking.”

But when he was 9 years old, his father suddenly died, leaving Brown reeling and lost.

“My schooling started to fail,” said Brown. “I just didn’t care.”

Not only was Brown failing academically, but he started drinking in middle school. By the time Brown was a freshman at Liberty High School, a long list of expulsions began. 

“I went first quarter,” said Brown. “By second quarter, I was expelled.”

From there he went to Vista West continuation high school where he would bounce in and out for the next two years. 

“I told him, what are you doing?” said mother Lorrie Bankster. “If you can’t do this then we need to do something else.”

But an alternative plan never developed because Brown suddenly changed directions his senior year.

“This year was a major turnaround,” said high school counselor Rhonda Barksdale. “The second term, he made the list.  The third term, he made the list.  Then all of a sudden it’s like, Trinity?”

Brown said his sudden change of heart was motivated by what he saw happen to the one person who still heavily influenced his life. His older brother, who already made it to college, had started using drugs and committing crimes, eventually ending up in Wasco State Prison last year.

“I watched him destroy his life,” said Brown.  “I didn’t want to go down that path.”

This year Brown has earned nearly straight As and has caught up on enough credits to graduate.

“I probably would not have said graduation was in the picture, certainly not within his four years” said Vista West principal Mike Mullings. “But he has certainly turned it around.”

“I saw what I needed to do and just turned it around and quit everything I was doing and just focused,” said Brown.

His mom sees the future for her son far differently than she did a year ago.

“I’m really proud of him,” said Bankster.  “I know he’s going to make the right decisions and I know he’s going to do good.  For sure.”

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