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CNN —  

Sometimes words meant to discourage end up fueling a person’s ride to success.

When Daivon Reeder started college four years ago, he said his stepfather was less than optimistic about his chances.

“My step dad told me it was pointless to go to orientation, I wasn’t going to graduate,” Reeder wrote in a tweet, now shared thousands of times. Fast forward four years, and Reeder notes that his stepdad is in jail and he’s a college grad.

The tweet wasn’t so much about bashing his stepfather as much as it was about Reeder using the words as motivation. He graduated from Eastern Michigan University over the weekend.

“When I tweeted it I was just looking at my picture and the emotion was kind of ironic. I was saying because of two situations we’re two black statistics and he’s on the bad statistic on the negative in jail and I’m on the good statistic on the black man who just graduated college,” he told CNN affiliate WXYZ.

Reeder, the oldest of four kids raised by a single mom, had struggles just like any college student and even lost his academic scholarship at one point. But he persevered, got his scholarship back and earned a criminal justice degree.

It’s all about how you handle the stuff that pops up in life.

“Stuff happens to you. You can run left or right,” he told CNN affiliate WDIV. “I ran right in a positive way.”