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Students Rising Above: Mission High Teen Set Sights On College In Atlanta

By Jennifer Mistrot and Michelle Griego

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- This week's Students Rising Above scholar finds his inspiration for academic success close to home, but hopes to attend one very special college back east.

For Isreal Laviene, family is everything. His drive to succeed is an effort he makes to serve those he cares about the most: his mother and younger siblings.

The love and support his family gives him supplies Laviene with an amazing confidence.

"The confidence comes from me knowing that if I don't know something, I'm going to learn it. If I don't know how to do it, I learn how to do it," explained Laviene. "Being the person that takes my family out of poverty is always the goal."

That confidence shows in everything Laviene does. The seventeen-year-old Mission High School senior boosts a 3.9 GPA, dabbles in modeling and
sees himself as a future entrepreneur. He is eyeing Morehouse in Atlanta as his college of choice.

"Morehouse; I wanted to go to an HBCU," declared Laviene, referring to the acronym for historically black colleges and universities. "They hold a lot of values that I feel represent a lot of my life. They teach you like how to be a man."

Laviene is a leader in academics and at home, because his father has not been with the family full time for much of Laviene's life. He has become a father figure to his younger sisters.

"I love being a big brother," said Laviene. "Being a big brother is what pushed me to a different responsibility."

It's a level of responsibility he took on as a young man living in a rough San Francisco neighborhood.

"People getting robbed. People sticking needles in their arms, you know what I'm saying?" said Laviene of this time in his young life. "People overdosing and dying. People getting shot. Like, it is crazy. It's a bubble that you feel like you can't ever get out of."

It was a bubble that Laviene admits he found easy to stay in, until he saw friends and family lose their lives to incarceration and gun violence.

"My cousin died in 2015, so that was like one of the biggest game changers," recalled Laviene. "I was like, 'I don't want this for me. I don't want to die. I don't want to go to jail. I want to have a good life.'"

Now Laviene is focused on the future. He'll find out about Morehouse soon. But he says no matter where he goes to school, his success will depend on his outlook and academic goals.

"Try your best. Try your best to just keep your head in the books," advised Laviene. "At the end of the day, it's for my family. But I am the one that's in the position that is doing well. So I'm good at the end of the day."

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