Jun 10, 2012 9:25 PM by Hope Hanselman, KSBY News

Shandon teenager makes a bright future out of a dark past

A local teenager is graduating middle school at the top of his class. He isn't wasting any time, and already, enrolling in college courses.

On Wednesday, Justin Denton will give the Valedictorian speech to his eighth grade class in Shandon. He's already won all the awards his school has to offer. Now, he's taking classes at Cuesta College's North County Campus.

Justin has been called a young genius.

"Mentally I'm at a different level than I am physically," Justin said.

Stacks of school awards and certificates will prove it. But none of it goes to his head.

"I don't take achievement and wave it above my head. I take it. I accept it; and I move on."

A humble boy now, Justin also came from humble beginnings.

"LA, you're constantly looking over your back. You constantly have to you, you know, you don't know what might happen," said Karen Fields, Justin's mother.

She raised her children in Watts, California. Fields says she grew up in a housing project, but wanted something better for her children.

"If we would have stayed in Watts, there's no telling probably what the outcome would have been for my children."

They found new opportunities in Paso Robles. Since her family moved, three years ago, Fields says her children have been accelerating faster in school.

And now, with his mother's advice, Justin's future is looking bright.

"There are better places that he can live in and the world is what you make it," Fields says.

Justin says he wants to grow up to become a doctor. He says he wants to build a career around helping people.

Fields is also a full-time student at Cuesta. She's taking classes in family studies and drug and alcohol counseling. But, she says her family struggles financially. When they can't make ends meet, Justin can't buy the books to take those courses. To learn how you can help Justin keep taking classes, click here.



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