Harvard Law Graduate Who Worked As A Sanitation Employee Creates Fund to Celebrate and Support Service Workers.

Harvard Law Graduate Who Worked As A Sanitation Employee Creates Fund to Celebrate and Support Service Workers.

July 25, 2023 by Cathy Stack

BLADENSBURG, Maryland—Food and housing insecurity as a teen inspired Rehan Staton to create a fund to help people in support staff and service roles. After completing law school, he founded an organization called The Reciprocity Effect, which provides funds to individuals in service roles who need help during personal emergencies or hardships.

A supportive single dad raised Rehan Staton and his brother. After their father lost a job, the family experienced food and housing insecurities. The struggles prevented Rehan from focusing on his high school studies, which in turn hindered his college application process.

“I was hungry in class. I didn’t have food, heat or electricity at home,” shared Rehan.

Rehan’s college application had been denied by colleges, which greatly discouraged him. He then accepted a job at the local sanitation company, Bates Trucking and Trash Removal. That job unexpectedly served as the stepping stone Rehan needed to continue his education.

Rehan’s older, more life-experienced colleagues at the sanitation company encouraged him to return to school to pursue his dreams. His boss offered a flexible work schedule that allowed him to continue his education while he earned the paycheck he needed. He reapplied and enrolled at Bowie State University, and eventually transferred to the University of Maryland where he excelled in his studies.

In Rehan’s junior year of college, his father suffered a stroke. Rehan then returned to the sanitation department to financially help his family. He worked two shifts a day while still attending college. Despite his busy work and class schedule, he made the dean’s list every semester. Rehan’s sheer determination propelled him to become the commencement speaker at his University of Maryland college graduation.

With his hard-earned college diploma in hand, Rehan then set his sights on pursuing a law degree. In 2019, he developed an unknown sickness that left him bedridden. While recovering, he diligently studied for the LSAT. A cousin visited daily to help him with his studies.

On March 16, 2020, Harvard Law School accepted Rehan into its program. He called that the greatest moment of his life, and he looked forward to the prospect of repaying his family for their sacrifices and support.

“Even though life isn’t always fair, if you put in the work, and stay disciplined and stay hungry, then everything will fall into place,” Rehan said.

Rehan faced a challenging path to becoming a Harvard Law School graduate and that path transformed him. Each time he cleared an obstacle or took a next step, it created more fuel and confidence to reach the next goal.

Rehan remains incredibly humble and grounded, and he intends to maintain that perspective.

“I didn’t want to change after going to law school,” he said. “The allure is huge. I went to work in fancy places. I made cool connections and friendships. But I don’t want to forget who I am,” he said.

Rehan credits his family, coworkers, former boss, classmates and professors with helping him stay motivated and on course. Now, Rehan has set a new goal to pay it forward.

He founded The Reciprocity Effect, an organization with a mission to increase visibility and quality of life for support staff workers at universities and corporate institutions. His former employer, Bates Trucking and Trash Removal generously donated $50,000 to the organization.

This year, Rehan helped raise $70,000 for Harvard University’s janitors and support staff members. He also organized an award celebration where workers each received a $100 gift card and many received awards of recognition.

The Reciprocity Effect sends a message to workers at every level of the organization that they deserve respect, recognition, and support. Moving forward, the organization plans to provide needs-based grants to individuals in support roles who need financial resources to overcome a personal hardship or emergency.

Rehan Staton, now a Harvard Law School graduate, has accepted a position at Paul Weiss, a law firm in New York City.

PassItOn and The Foundation For a Better Life believe that Rehan Staton is a hero. His action is a great example of the value of giving back. Rehan inspires others to never give up on themselves or their dreams. Once he achieved his own dream, he found a meaningful way to pay it forward and give back to his community. Help us honor Rehan by sharing his inspiring story.

Watch video here: https://youtu.be/Lk9B5Ur39SI

To learn more about The Reciprocity Effect, go to: https://www.thereciprocityeffect.org/

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