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Kashawn Campbell overcame many obstacles to become a straight-A student. But his freshman year at UC Berkeley shook him to the core.

School had always been his safe harbor.

Growing up in one of South Los Angeles’ bleakest, most violent neighborhoods, he learned about the world by watching “Jeopardy” and willed himself to become a straight-A student.

His teachers and his classmates at Jefferson High all rooted for the slight and hopeful African American teenager. He was named the prom king, the most likely to succeed, the senior class salutatorian. He was accepted to UC Berkeley, one of the nation’s most renowned public universities.

A semester later, Kashawn Campbell sat inside a cramped room on a dorm floor that Cal reserves for black students. It was early January, and he stared nervously at his first college transcript.

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