The country may remember Rachel Jeantel as the friend of Trayvon Martin who testified against George Zimmerman during the February 2012 trial, but today she is known as a tenacious high school graduate.
Jeantel was the last person to speak with Martin on the phone just moments before Zimmerman gunned him down. During the trial, Jeantel was a star witness, but she was dismissed by many and outed as uneducated because of her short temper and inability to answer questions in standard English.
Just two years ago, Jeantel was at a fourth-grade reading level. But with the help of radio show host Tom Joyner and dedicated tutors, she was able to pick up the slack and become a member of the graduating class of 2014.
Joyner promised to provide tutoring to Jeantel to help her graduate high school and score well on the SAT.
Jeantel underwent seven hours of tutoring per day. “Very, very, very tough,” she told “ABC News” when describing the tutoring. “That’s what I needed.”
Joyner also pledged to pay four years of tuition to any historically Black college or university of Jeantel’s choice that accepts her.
On her Twitter feed, Jeantel said, “I really want to thank the people who got me here, my village, family, my school, friends, supporters, Rod and [the] Tom Joyner Foundation–Thank you.”
“I kept my word to Trayvon that I would do this,” Jeantel told CNN.