05/30/04 — Graduation -- Staying strong

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Graduation -- Staying strong

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on May 30, 2004 9:15 AM

When Trevor Handberry's mother was diagnosed with cancer two years ago, life for the family shifted into high gear.

Every day, the Goldsboro High School student would rise, get his little brother ready for school, go to his own classes, attend football practice, then head off to a part-time job.

"If I was sick, my mom would do the same thing for me," he says.

He said his biggest motivation for working, first at Wendy's fast-food restaurant and now at Sonic drive-in, was because he hated to ask his mother for money.

"There was a time when my mother couldn't drive, couldn't get out of bed," he said. "I wanted to make it where whatever I need, I can provide for myself."

His mother, Opal Davis, underwent chemotherapy and radiation. Her condition improved but she still has cancer and remains under a doctor's care.

Trevor managed to juggle his studies and interests in spite of his home situation.

He played defensive back on the varsity football team, was senior class president, treasurer of Future Business Leaders of America, a member of the inner-school council and the Student Government Association. This year, he received the "Never Stop Learning" award from WTVD TV and a counselor's award from Wayne County public schools for having overcome adversities.

He also maintained a 3.4 grade-point average, with a course load this year that included physics and calculus.

He will attend Winston-Salem State University in the fall, to major in chemistry, with plans to become a pharmacist. He has already received four local scholarships of $500 each and hopes that more financial aid will come his way. He said he also applied to North Carolina State University and visited the campus, but found Winston-Salem to be a better fit.

"It was a tough choice," he said. "State is a bigger school and has a good athletic program. But Winston-Salem has a graduate pharmacy program and for the first two years of college, I wanted to be in an environment that's comfortable for me."

He has not ruled out playing college football, but says he first wants to settle into the academic routine. He has never failed a class and is confident he'll adjust, but is aware he will have to pace himself before he takes on a job or extra-curricular activities.

He also knows his heart and his mind will never be far from home.

"They're proud of me, very supportive," Trevor said of his family. He has a younger brother, Ka'Ron, age 8, who is a student at Dillard Academy. His older brother, Sterling, age 24, lives in Florida.

"My older brother has encouraged me a lot and tells me he's proud of me," Trevor adds.

And even though his mother isn't always well, he said, she planned to attend his graduation. So did his father, a retired transit worker who lives in New York.

Trevor said it hasn't settled in yet that he's actually leaving high school behind. He said he will keep in touch with his friends and has no regrets about the time spent at Goldsboro High.

"If I had a choice to go to any other school, I wouldn't," he said. "These teachers didn't all come out of Goldsboro High School; they come from all over.

"They're certified teachers and the knowledge is there, if you just come to school every day and work hard."