Despite all odds, a young Texas girl born in a prison graduated as one of the top students in her class and will be attending Harvard University in the fall to further her education.
According to the Houston Chronicle, Aurora Castner graduated third in her class from Conroe High School just 18 years after being born inside the Galveston County Jail.
The new graduate began her application essay to the Ivy League school with “I was born in prison,” according to the Chronicle. She got accepted through early action.
When Castner was born, her mother was already incarcerated, and she connected with her mother since the day her father picked her up from jail as an infant and raised her alone.
With the help of the Conroe neighborhood, Castner got to fulfill her dream of attending Harvard and pursuing a career in law.
The staff at her primary school introduced her to a community mentoring program where adult volunteers have lunch with young students at least once a week and offer advice on their needs, aspirations, worries, and future. Castner’s relationship with his student was typical of many that last for years.
Mona Hamby, according to the Chronicle, has been in Castner’s life for a decade. “I was given a paper about her. Her hero was Rosa Parks, her favorite food was Dairy Queen tacos, and she loved to read. “I thought she sounded like a bright little girl,” Hamby told the Chronicle. “I still have that paper.” Hamby, like Castner, was raised without a mother.
“She told me, ‘I’ve been to jail.'” “No, that can’t be right,” she said of the then-8-year-old. “I knew I couldn’t just go to lunch with this kid once a week; she needed more,” Hamby told the Chronicle.
According to the publication, Hamby took Castner to her first haircut at a salon, assisted her in getting glasses, and even took her on a tour of Harvard’s campus in March 2022. “After that trip, I saw her love for the school intensify,” Hamby said.
The adolescent stated that she found value in her life both before and after joining the mentorship program.
“It was a very different environment than I grew up in, and that’s not a bad thing,” Castner told the Chronicle. “Everything Mona taught me was very valuable in the same way that everything I went through before Mona was very valuable.”
In addition to helping the teen receive dental care, other members of the community allowed her to attend summer camp. James Wallace, a professor at Boston University, reportedly provided Castner with Harvard application advice. “He helped me to tell my story in the best way possible,” Castner said.
However, Castner’s dedication to academic rigor was self-driven. She joined the Academy for Health and Science Professions in her high school, which aids in preparing students’ minds for careers in science and mathematics, as she grew up a strong reader at a young age.