Bullied Farmington teen turns life around

‘I’d really like to help people in the future’ 

By: Sherri Kolade | Farmington Press | Published February 5, 2019

 Brandon Brown graduated from Farmington High School in 2017 at USA Hockey Arena  in Plymouth.

Brandon Brown graduated from Farmington High School in 2017 at USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth.

Photo provided by Brandon Brown

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FARMINGTON/FARMINGTON HILLS  — Farmington resident Brandon Brown, 19, has a 3.6 grade-point average at Oakland Community College, is a Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society officer, and was recently named a semifinalist for the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship. 

“I feel pretty good about it,” he said of the semifinalist status. “It would be a very good opportunity for me to take advantage of.”

But life, Brown said, was not always full of promise and potential. Life, during his formative years, was devastating.

The 2017 Farmington High School graduate will tell you in his own words how he “struggled a lot” in school with bullying and teasing. 

“I lost all self-esteem and had to see a psychiatrist, which caused me to be chronically depressed all through high school,” he said, adding that his grades “suffered tremendously.”

Early on, when he was a toddler with speech problems, his parents worked with him diligently to prepare him for school. He also received special education services to assist him.

In elementary school, his academics blossomed, his grades soared and he was doing well.

That all changed when he got a little older.

His mother, Quisha Brown, of Farmington, can attest to that. She said Brandon was a straight-A student in kindergarten through sixth grade.

“Doing very well in school,” she remembered. But in middle school, he started being bullied and teased, and his grades dropped. “Being a parent, I didn’t know why it was happening.

“He got his first C in one of his courses, and then I knew something was really, really going on — his whole attitude, personality started changing,” she said.

She talked to school officials, bought Brandon new clothes to try to decrease the bullying and teasing, and transferred him to another school. 

During all of this, one of his social outlets was playing soccer. Quisha said that one of her outlets was prayer.

After the school transfer, the “bullying would get worse,” she said.

By high school, Brandon’s GPA had plummeted to 1.8.

As a high school senior, Brandon knew his future and his college prospects were in jeopardy because of his grades.  So he decided to take his future into his own hands.

He attended OCC, and his “whole view of life” suddenly began to change.

“I realized that what people say about (me) was meaningless, and the power of my destiny is in my hands, not the bullies’,” he said.  

His mom said she helped teach him those principles. She said bullies have no power in the real world.

In the real world, Brandon is among the 12 people in Michigan selected for the scholarship competition.

“And the only name from Farmington/Farmington Hills,” he said. “My story is an inspiration to many youth who are struggling in school, and it helps to let them know that it is never too late to change your life’s trajectory.”

Marikay L. Clancy, OCC’s associate dean of student services for the Orchard Ridge Campus, said in an email that Brandon has excelled at OCC.

“He has taken a rigorous course load during his time here,” Clancy said, noting that Brandon took molecular biology with other challenging courses and earned A’s and B’s.

“That is quite a feat in and of itself, especially in his first semester of any college,” Clancy said. 

Clancy said Brandon is quiet, “but with a wonderful smile,”  and has shown “leadership qualities and shared keen insights on methods to increase membership engagement. His initiative in applying for the Kent Cooke scholarship on his own shows his determination and dedication to his studies, and we at OCC are very proud of him.”

The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, according to a press release, “supports high-achieving community college students” when they transfer to four-year institutions to complete their bachelor’s degrees. 

This year’s semifinalists were selected from nearly 1,500 applicants attending 369 schools in 45 states and the District of Columbia, the press release states. 

“Countless highly talented and motivated students begin their college experience at community college,” Seppy Basili, executive director of the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, said in the release. “We’re pleased to recognize this incredible cohort of semifinalists for their academic drive and achievement.” 

The release states that Cooke Transfer Scholars are selected based on exceptional academic ability and achievement, financial need, persistence, service, and leadership. Candidates must be community college students in the United States. Since 2000, the foundation has awarded $190 million in scholarships to nearly 2,500 students from eighth grade through graduate school, along with counseling and other support services, the release states. 

Brandon, who is currently paying his way through community college, said he wants to be a psychiatrist.

“Because as a kid, I’ve struggled with mental disorders,” he said. He speaks to other people who have been through bullying, and he likes to give them advice.

The scholarship could help him achieve his dreams without being burdened by student loans.

“I’d really like to help people in the future deal with these circumstances because of how much it affected me, so I kind of have a soft spot for it,” he said.

To learn more about the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, go to www.jkcf.org.

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