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For This Fort Worth Senior, High School Milestones Are Major Life Moments

Lara Solt
KERA News special contributor
Chance Hawkins is crowned prom king at the Dunbar High School prom in Arlington on May 6.

Chance Hawkins, 19, was born with a rare genetic degenerative disease. He’s getting ready to graduate from Fort Worth’s Dunbar High School, concluding a journey that’s been filled with obstacles — and rewards.

Earlier this month, Chance Hawkins’ family and friends thought they’d lost him. Chance wasn’t sure he’d live to see another day either.

“I was really just trying to ask God to help me, you know. But I couldn’t really talk,” he says. “I couldn’t really even think it. I was just going down and everything was black.”

Chance was in the nurse’s office at Dunbar High when he passed out. Phlegm had gotten stuck in his throat, and he couldn’t cough it up.

Chance’s mom, Clarice, was there trying to help. When he stopped breathing, she started screaming. His older brother Robert was there, too. Students and teachers gathered and prayed nearby.

Dunbar High principal SaJade Miller walked into the nurse’s office to see what was happening.

“I see the nurse giving Chance chest compressions and that was one of the most difficult moments of my career in education because I speak to Chance every day,” Miller says. “He is sort of our hero and to see that …”

Paramedics arrived. They performed CPR. When Chance woke up, he was in the ambulance on the way to a hospital. A paramedic on one side, his mom on the other.

Chance broke out in a big smile. “He told my mom, ‘You have a smiler,’” he says.

He told his mom that he loved her. Clarice Boyd thought he was gone.

“But he’s a fighter,” she said. “He proved me wrong. And I’m glad. I don’t know what I’d do without him.”

About the Class of '17

Five years ago, we met a group of North Texas eighth graders from different schools with different lives. As senior year winds down, we're checking in with members of the Class of 2017 before they graduate.

Read the entire story about Chance — he's one of seven North Texas teens we've been following since 8th grade in our American Graduate series, Class of '17.

Stella M. Chávez is KERA’s immigration/demographics reporter/blogger. Her journalism roots run deep: She spent a decade and a half in newspapers – including seven years at The Dallas Morning News, where she covered education and won the Livingston Award for National Reporting, which is given annually to the best journalists across the country under age 35.