Malachi Prince was not sure if he would ever graduate. But despite his initial doubt, the 18-year-old recently achieved his goal as he graduated from Science Hill’s alternative center, Topper Academy. After graduation Prince has returned to Topper Academy to serve as a peer mentor and help students avoid the same pitfalls that made him once doubt himself.
“I’m glad to be in a position in life where they can see me as an example and say, ‘If he can do it, then I can do it,’” Prince said. “Growing up with me bumping my head through situations and getting through life’s obstacles and overcoming a lot of things that these students are going through now, I’m just glad I am in an opportunity where I can be a good example for others.”
And Prince’s presence and persistence to help students have been invaluable. Prince will spend time talking to students to help them through situations. Some students even request to speak with him, as they look at him as a big brother.
“It’s awesome,” Topper Academy Social-Emotional Interventionist Shanna Fudge said of having Prince as a peer mentor. “He can get through to them with some things that we can’t as adults. Students look up to their peers, and they will listen to them before they listen to use as adults. Because they feel like they can identify with them more.”
“He is just making a positive change all around,” she continued. “He has brought a really positive vibe around all of our students and I am just really proud of him.”
While Topper Academy administrators may appreciate Prince, he said that there is no way he would have been able to graduate high school without their help.
“I didn’t believe that I could do it in the time frame that I did,” Prince said. “Coming here, having the help, and them pushing me and encouraging me, I really appreciated that.”
Prince said that he has big dreams of creating a community center that can help kids with life skills, management and other things that aren’t always covered in the classroom. While he continues to mentor peers, he hopes to get into a trade school to become a mechanic and attain his commercial driver’s license to drive trucks. Until then, he said he will continue to help as many students at Topper Academy as he can.
“I feel like a lot of the students that are down here are just misunderstood,” Prince said. “Talking to them and being around them, they are talented. They know what they want to do. In the moment they are a little confused. But I honestly believe that they have a lot going for themselves. I just hope to help them uncover their talents and help them get their high school diplomas.”