Three years ago, Brennan Walker was a freshman in high school when his life was turned upside down. Walker was trying to make his way to Rochester High School when he missed the bus. In an attempt to get to class on time, he tried knocking on the door of Jeff Zeigler and asking for directions. Instead of offering directions or driving the young man to school, Zeigler opened fire on the teenager. Fortunately, Walker was not injured, but the incident has stuck with him.
In the aftermath of the traumatic ordeal, Walker received some much-needed educational and emotional support from teachers and counselors at Alternative Center for Education in Rochester, Michigan.
“After that stuff happened to me, I was in a pretty bad place as far as my schoolwork, mentally and emotionally,” Walker explained.
“I wasn’t really there, fully.”
Fortunately, Walker was able to move forward with his life in spite of Zeigler's actions. He was elected student council president at his local high school and he's managed to graduate one semester early. In the fall, he'll travel thousands of miles away to attend Florida Memorial University in Miami Gardens, Florida.
“To know that something happened to him and he still persevered gives me the confidence to know that whatever happens in Florida, I am not going to be worried because I know he has the mindset and the skills to put it together. And he’ll be okay," Walker's mother, Lisa Walker, said about her son's college decision.
“I kind of think I picked it just because I kind of wanted to be around more people of color and I kind of wanted to also leave Michigan because I feel like I know a lot of people here — and I want to be surrounded by new people," Brennan Walker added.
Walker will begin classes at the historically Black university in late August.
Reading about Black trauma can have an impact on your mental health. If you or someone you know need immediate mental health help, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor. These additional resources are also available:
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255
The National Alliance on Mental Illness 1-800-950-6264
The Association of Black Psychologists 1-301-449-3082
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America 1-240-485-1001
For more mental health resources, click HERE.