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CBN.com Cedric Rucker has an eye for unreached human potential. He knows life can be hopeless without a vision of one’s unique purpose, and he has chosen to do something to help change that for as many people as possible. For this reason, Rucker has dedicated his time and abilities to coaching at-risk boys, finding ways to help them develop their uncultivated talents.

Rucker arrived in Norfolk, Va., for his service to the military. While stationed at Norfolk Naval Base from 1997 to 2000, he became familiar with the area, establishing himself in a church home and developing local friendships. After his discharge from the military, Rucker chose to pursue a bachelor’s degree in psychology.

While taking a class called “African-American Psychology” as a sophomore, Rucker experienced his moment of truth, a powerful turning point from which his life purpose would develop. He came face to face with the problems many at-risk African-American students experience while trying to acquire an education. “Seeing the statistics that pointed to the problems at-risk students were having broke my heart,” Rucker recalls. He knew he had to work with these kids. He wanted to help the ones who lacked the success-shaping support he experienced as a child.

After graduation, as a budding life-changer, Rucker chose to further refine his knowledge. Learning about Regent University from a friend, he chose the university to pursue a Master of Arts in Counseling. Rucker wanted to be ably equipped for his role as a counselor and mentor. He recognized the advantages of Regent’s integration of academic curriculum with the spiritual dimension of life.

Rucker identifies with kids who struggle to achieve academically. Though he completed his undergraduate work summa cum laude, Rucker had no interest in school as a boy growing up in Cleveland, Ohio. He didn’t apply himself. He didn’t see the relevance of school. His educational performance suffered. However, for young Rucker, there was hope. With continued reinforcement from his father — who was a pastor — and his mother, a teacher, Rucker eventually succeeded in school. He received positive affirmation from people who believed in his potential, who wouldn’t give up on him. Rucker had the voices of family and teachers cheering him on, providing vision when he had none.

As an undergraduate student, Rucker began to focus on those less fortunate than he had been. “I took a small step. I volunteered to read and tutor elementary-aged inner-city children,” he explains. Those disadvantaged children were the seeds that grew into his life’s passion to counsel and pastor, to change lives from the inside out.

As he honed his counseling skills, Rucker also worked part-time at a local residential treatment facility for at-risk children and adolescents with emotional issues.

Rucker also discovered the impact he could make when able to focus on one child’s unique situation at a time. While working for Compass Youth Services, Rucker did in-home counseling with the children and their families, often with life-changing results.

Rucker began his latest challenge at Harvard Divinity School. His own rise from prosaic educational beginnings to admission to Harvard’s Divinity School could well provide encouragement to those to whom he will minister. “I understand what it is to have potential and not fully reach it,” he says. “I believe my call is to pastor.” Yet Rucker affirms that his destiny will always include working with young people as a mentor and life-shaping encourager.

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