Students Rising AboveBy Michelle Griego

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — For nearly two decades KPIX 5 has been telling the stories of Students Rising Above scholars and their amazing achievements. But we’ve never been a part of a story before until now, when we received a surprise email about one very special student, Isreal Laviene.

In January of 2021, Laviene was a senior at Mission High School in San Francisco. At that time he revealed to KPIX 5 that his dream school was Morehouse College in Atlanta.

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“I wanted to go to an HBCU. They hold a lot of values that I feel represent a lot of my life,” said Laviene. “Being the person that takes my family out of poverty is always the goal.”

LEARN MORE: Students Rising Above

Soon after Laviene’s interview, his story aired on KPIX 5 and was posted to the Students Rising Above page on the station’s website.

Isreal Laviene. (CBS)

Isreal Laviene. (CBS)

The interview caught the eye of one very special viewer, Kevin D. Chapman Jr., Assistant Director of the Bonner Office of Community Service at Morehouse College.

Chapman then sent KPIX 5’s Michelle Griego an email asking how he could get in contact with Laviene.

“When I saw the story, I saw a man who was determined to succeed, and to bring others along with him,” said Chapman. “In some ways, I kind of saw myself. I saw the brothers that we support in the different communities around Morehouse and across the country.”

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KPIX 5, along with SRA, connected the two, and the rest as they say is history. Laviene was accepted into Morehouse’s class of 2025, grateful beyond words for the full financial scholarship package he’s receiving.

“It was just like a whole weight lifted off of me,” said Laviene. “My body didn’t have weight and I was floating in the air. I felt amazing.”

It was great news for an incredible young person who’s been through a lot. Laviene grew up in one of the toughest neighborhoods in San Francisco. He has seen friends and loved ones lose their lives to incarceration and gun violence.

Recently, he lost his own father Darral Laviene at age 57 to a heart attack, just days before he needed to complete his college applications. His family continues to grieve.

“My mom just really broke down about it. My brothers, it was crazy,” said Laviene of his father’s passing. “My little sisters lost their superhero. I lost my pops.”

Laviene may have lost his beloved father but he did not lose his spirit. That is something Laviene said he says he will carry to Morehouse this fall.

Laviene is looking forward to campus life, as he is the first in his family to go to college.

It’s a story and a student we could not be more proud of. Morehouse’s Kevin D. Chapman Jr. agrees.

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“I want to thank you all for this segment, Students Rising Above,” said Chapman. “If it wasn’t for the platform that you give students such as Isreal, we wouldn’t be able to provide this opportunity.”