A New Jersey mother used a billboard to show people that it is possible to raise a gentleman in one of the most dangerous cities in America.
Aljelani “AJ” Igew is an 18-year-old student at Leap Academy, a charter school in Camden, New Jersey. Next week, Igew graduates, and he has plans to attend college and one day start a rewarding career.
“I know I want my own house, and my mom wanted a BMW, so I’m going to try and get her that too.”
AJ’s mom was so proud to hear that her son was graduating that she paid $725 to have a billboard put up near her son’s high school saying:
“A mother can’t raise a man, but I raised a gentleman. We have the total package. Love, your family. Congratulations 2015!”
While some students might have been ashamed to hear that their high school graduation picture got blasted onto a billboard, AJ was not. In fact, he seemed to enjoy the three-week public gesture.
Raising children in Camden, New Jersey is not an easy undertaking — the city is known more for its rampant drug abuse and and criminal activity than its high SAT scores, so getting children to graduate high school can be an uphill battle from the start.
The population of Camden, New Jersey reports that 35% of its citizens have not graduated high school and only 8% have gone on to graduate college with a bachelor’s degree.
Camden’s homicide rate in 2012 was five-times greater than the neighboring city Philadelphia and 18 times greater than New York City.
While Camden has made some strategic developments, mainly including a massive restructuring of the police force which has since dropped the homicide rate by almost 50%, it is still not an ideal city to raise children in.
Thankfully, there are people like AJ and his mother who believe in making a difference in the community. His mother said in an interview with CBS,
“Lead by example. If I can do it, you can do it too.”