This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

INDIANAPOLIS – Academic success comes with little difficulty for some students. For Desmond Williamson, it came down to a choice: give up or get up. He chose the latter.

“Even if you’re down and out in life you can’t give up,” he said. “You simply can’t because that would be the easy way out.”

The path hasn’t been easy for Williamson. The National Honors society member and IPS Future Center ambassador recalls a lot of hard work.

“[It was] definitely a process. It took a long time to achieve actually,” he said.

That hard work landed him third in his class at George Washington High School. It was inspired by his mother, who Desmond watched pursue a degree at IUPUI.

“I always looked at her as strong-willed because she was able to pursue knowledge over everything that she already had to do,” he said.

Before she was able to achieve her goals, Desmond’s mother died of complications brought on by a blood clot in her leg.

“I had gotten the call that she had passed It was really surreal. That’s how I remember it. It was just super surreal,” Williamson said.

His mother was in her 40s. Desmond was only 13.

Starting at a new school, living in a new home, and losing his best friend, Desmond remembers being in a dark place.

“I went from you know from having everyone in my life to being alone,” he said.

The loneliness brought temptation to join a life of crime.

“I was already feeling low and there was temptation everywhere so yeah I would be lying if I said I didn’t think about it all the time,” he said.

He didn’t give into the temptation. Instead, he found distractions. He got involved in Unified Sports, a program that promotes the inclusion of those with special needs. He also turned his attention to the classroom where he had dreams to reach the top of the class.

He fell back on the Biblical values and work ethic of his mother.

“She was juggling a lot,” he said. “Just seeing that taught me early on that I can’t let the temptation around me stop me from achieving my goals.”

For Desmond, it came down to a choice to overcome, both in the classroom and in life.

“Once I have that goal in my sight, I won’t stop until I actually have it. then it’s on to the next goal and on to the next,” he said.

He credits his involvement in unified track and football for helping bring him out of that dark period. There he became a protector, mentor and friend.

Next year, he heads to Purdue University where he plans to study computer science.