One’s past does not always determine one’s future. Krishaun Branch, 23-year-old Fisk University alum, never stopped believing in himself. Krishaun is featured in a documentary titled All The Difference, which will be premiered nationally on PBS on Sept. 12.
This documentary follows the lives of Branch and his former classmate Robert Henderson as they matriculate through high school at Urban Prep Academy and on through college. Filmmaker Tod Lending followed these two young men for five years, from 11th grade, until a few months after their college graduation.
Lending chose to film these two young men because of their life story, and wanted to see them overcome their circumstances and achieve their ultimate goal, which was graduating from college.
Branch in particular had not always realized the essentiality of education. He was involved in gang activity during his younger years and didn’t think college was the route for his life, but Urban Prep changed his position.
Branch arrived at Fisk University in Nashville in August of 2010 feeling anxious, not knowing what to expect. He believed in himself and achieved his goal. He graduated in four years, earning a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the institution.
After his graduation, Branch was immediately hired by Urban Prep Academy. He currently works in the office of Admissions and Recruitment.
Being from Englewood, Branch realizes that he must give back to the community that raised him. “I travel to the local high schools and try to recruit young men to attend Urban Prep. I do this because Urban Prep has offered me plenty of opportunities while I was in high school, and gave me the tools to be successful in college,” he stated.
Branch speaks for several other young men who realized they wanted to make something of themselves, and that education is a key component to living an affluent life.
Samuel Martin Jr., 25, always knew that education was crucial, but his actions in high school proved otherwise. Martin often found himself in sticky situations at Kenwood Academy, and was suspended a lot as a result. During his junior year of high school, he realized that he must begin to take school seriously if he wanted to attend college.
“My “it” moment was when I began to apply to universities and I realized that I did not meet some schools’ requirements. I always felt I was smart, and thought everything would be handed to me. But junior year when it was time to apply for grants and scholarships, and I wasn’t getting into the schools that I wanted, that made me realize that my performance in school was having an effect on what I wanted to do.”
Martin made a significant improvement in his academic performance and was admitted into Mississippi Valley State University in 2009, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Biology this past May. He is headed to Georgia State University this upcoming semester, where he is enrolled in the institutions’ Master of Science Biology Program. He plans to be a veterinarian.
Tyree Taylor, 25, was considered a trouble maker throughout high school. Some of his teachers felt as though he brought a negative influence to the school. However, Taylor felt he was misunderstood.
“Though I rarely participated in fights, disrespectful confrontations, etc., I was always considered a bad student based off where I was from and how I look. I was born and raised in Jeffery Manor, which is a rough neighborhood heavily plagued with guns and drugs. Therefore, when I was away from the neighborhood, my hood demeanor and attitude stayed with me.” Taylor stated.
After graduating high school, Taylor believed in his scholarship and rejuvenated his image. In 2015 he graduated from Tennessee State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications. He currently works for Power 92 radio station as a Board Operator and Promotions Assistant. He has already started giving back to his community by working as a Youth Care Counselor at a local YMCA, and volunteering at Mercy Home for Boys and Girls.
These young men prove by their achievements that anything is possible. They prove that no goal is unattainable, and that one controls their own destiny. In “All The Difference,” Branch represents several young men from Chicago who have turned over a new leaf and never looked back. He is their spokesperson, telling their story to the world that there is always a chance at redemption.