All the Difference

All the Difference is a documentary that follows two young black men through their senior year of high school and four years of college, including several moments when ― had they not had the right mix of luck, family support and resilience ― they might have easily fallen off track. For disadvantaged students like these two young men, the film shows, the combination of many little things that can make all the difference.

Robert Henderson and Krishaun Branch lived in one of Chicago’s most violent neighborhoods. They weren’t the type of kids who typically get into and graduate from college. And yet, despite many bumps in the road and thousands of dollars of student debt, both earned college degrees in four years.

Here’s the trailer:

“All The Difference” was inspired by writer Wes Moore’s book, The Other Wes Moore. It tells the story of someone with the same name as the author, from the same neighborhood and background, who went down a vastly different path. The other Wes Moore is serving a life sentence for murder, while the author is a military veteran, former White House fellow and social entrepreneur.

The Other Wes Moore was actually the One Book choice at Villanova  couple of years ago; I’d highly recommend it. Wes Moore even came to campus and gave a wonderful presentation.

While many people may take college for granted, that is certainly not the case with these two young men. They are both proud and humbled by what they have accomplished, and it is nice to see what they commit to after graduation.

The statistics are discouraging for students like Robert and Krishaun in terms of metrics like graduating high school, life expectancy, and job prospects. Yet somehow they were able to not only graduate high school, but college as well. As noted above, it was through their hard work and the support of family and friends that they were able to achieve such a lofty goal.

The ending has a sad reality check, and makes Robert’s and Krishaun’s college graduation even more impressive.

I found the movie to be eye-opening and hopeful. I can’t imagine how difficult it must be for a poor, black high school student to survive the allure of a gang, the inadequate resources at school, and sometimes a difficult family situation.

All in all, I thought that the documentary provided a useful overview of the difficulties that many students in our poverty stricken neighborhoods face when trying to deal with challenging financial problems and peer pressure.

By the way, if you would iike to watch the video, All the Difference is currently available via free streaming at the PBS web site

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Jim Borden

Accounting Prof. at Villanova; happily married for 30+ years; father of 3 outstanding young men; vegan; interests: fitness, creativity, education, blogging, social media.

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