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All his life people told Devon Wade, 20, that he would wind up in prison just like both of his parents .... No So !
Wade is also the first African American from Louisiana State University to win the scholarship. He says his work as a mentor with the Houston-based advocacy group, No More Victims, helped him win the award.
Wade spoke with FOX 26 while on his spring break. His father went to prison soon after Wade was born and is still there. Wade's mother has been in and out of the penitentiary for more than a decade.
"You tell people your parents are incarcerated, and they look at you like you're going to be just like them and they make jokes," said Wade.
Wade grew up in northeast Houston. His grandparents always encouraged him, but he was still surrounded by poverty and crime.
"You're stuck in this box, and a lot of people are scared to venture beyond there because of fear of failure," said Wade.
In high school, he met Marilyn Gambrell, who founded No More Victims to help kids whose parents are incarcerated.
"A learning disability for a lot of our children is pain, and when we set them free from that they're brilliant," said Gambrell.
Wade will graduate from LSU in December becoming the first college graduate in the group's 17-year history. On Friday, he shared the news with his family that he had been named a Truman Scholar. For Wade, it was a rare moment with his recently-paroled mom.
"Today, I just teach them from my mistakes so they will not make them. They can look at me as an example of things not to do and choices not to make," said Suzanne Wade.
Devon Wade tells children not to be angry at their parents but to use education to make their lives better.
"I think it's so important for a figure to be there who says, 'hey you can do it,'" said Wade.
Wade plans to pursue graduate studies and continue to research and spread awareness about the cycle of crime in the inner city.