“Today we honor you for teaching us all that you’ve learned. You are a hero Mr. Austin, a Super Citizen! Thank you for being who you are, so we can become who we are destined to be.”

As a 5th grade student spoke those inspiring words into the microphone at Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School’s Super Citizen Graduation, Mr. Austin looked down at his statue and smiled. Mr. Austin was nominated and honored by two fifth grade classes to receive the privilege of being a Torch Team Hero.

It was hard to find the right words as Austin beamed with excitement.

“Seeing all of the students actually engaged and paying attention- and being a part of this- made me feel really good,” said Austin.

Austin is from Atlanta, GA, where he grew up homeless. Through his childhood he took care of his mother who battled an 18 year drug addiction and also volunteered at “Atlanta Mission: My Sisters House”, a rehabilitation center and shelter for women and children. Austin joined the United States Army and later graduated from Alabama A&M University, where he received his degree in education. While teaching elementary students for 3 years now, Austin also serves as a Second Lieutenant at the 128th Military Police Company. Austin always tried to tell his students that his success was all thanks to eduation.

“I felt this overwhelming sense of pride,” Austin said. “I did not realize that my students actually paid that much attention and listened to some of the things I’ve said to them.”

Wells Fargo provided 50 students at Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School the opportunity to participate in the Super Citizen Program. In the 10 week program, these fifth graders learned valueable lessons in civics, character building, career development, and financial literacy all through the lens of American ideals and civic responsibility. Today as they celebrate becoming Super Citizens, they are honoring Austin for being a true role model to their classes.

Austin says Wells Fargo is the true hero here today, because they are believing in the students at Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School.

“I also want to say thank you for giving them the opportunity. Not only for helping them out, but for providing them the opportunity to see that education is important and that education really will help you out and help you get to where you are in life.”