What Pegman Saw: The Pittsburgh Promise

Pittsburgh Perry High School, I think | Google Maps

Pittsburgh Perry High School, I think | Google Maps

“Don’t be hanging with no corner boys,” she’d say.

DeAndre could still hear the growl of his grandmother’s voice while he waited backstage for his name to be called.

There would be no one in his family to hear his name called today; no one to see him stride across the stage in the graduation gown, no one to run a finger on the raised text of the valedictorian medal. His grandma passed away last October. His dad was still in Joliet, and his mother—well, who knew where she was. But somehow, he felt his grandma with him.

He would be the first member of his family to go to college, he realized as he walked tall across the stage to collect his diploma. And, as he tossed the cap into the air after the ceremony, he made a wish, a promise, a vow:

He would not be the last.

151 words

This has been an edition of What Pegman Saw. To read more stories inspired by the prompt or to submit your own, click here.

As college grows ever more out of reach for working families, it has long been inaccessible for those hoping to raise themselves from poverty. Scholarships like The Pittsburgh Promise aim to change that by funding the college education of urban Pittsburgh youth. Even though such scholarships don’t make it easy, they make it a little bit more possible.


  1. A story to inspire … in so many ways.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Crispina, I was hoping to do just that 🙂 What a great program they offer.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Splendidly written. It’s also great to read a tragedy that not only ends happily, but also has a hopeful message. A lot going on in very few words. Well done.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks J. Hardy. When I learned it was Pittsburgh this week, it was hard not to think of recent tragedies, and I was definitely in the mood for some hopeful news. A recent Pittsburgh headline announced that American Eagle (the clothing store) had donated a million dollars to The Pittsburgh Promise. “The Pittsburgh Promise” sounded so intriguing I had to learn more. I was glad I did.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for such an uplifting story! “The Pittsburgh Promise” offers hope, as does your well- penned story. You provide a lot of family history in 150-words.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aw thanks for your kind comment. Glad you found it uplifting 🙂


  4. I especially like your line about touching the upraised letters of the medal. That was so touching. Its a shame he doesn’t have a cheering crowd of relatives to share his triumph with, but it is a triumph nonetheless.


  5. It’s interesting to learn your young people are having the same problems ours are. We once had fairer funding for university education, but now that’s gone, making degrees the preserve of the better off once again. Such a terrible blow to equality, to social mobility. All those gifted young people left without prospects because they happen to be poor.
    Your story gives a glimmer or hope to the young in at least one city and you painted a vibrant human tale too. Wonderful

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much. Not only do the disadvantaged lose when education is out of reach, we lose out on their contributions. Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Exactly! Some of these government policies are so narrow minded and short sighted. My pleasure Karen

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Dear Karen,

    This story had me wanting to stand and applaud for DeAndre. Such a hopeful story. Very well done.



    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is the most gratifying feedback. Thank you!


  7. Beautifully done, Karen. So inspirational as so few manage to do what DeAndre did. Loved it.


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