Proud Mom Celebrates Son's Graduation with Massive Billboard: 'A Mother Can't Raise a Man, But I Raised a Gentleman'
Ovella O'Neal, of Camden, New Jersey, kept strict rules in place for her son
http://CBSPHL.images.worldnow.com/interface/js/WNVideo.js?rnd=683732;hostDomain=video.philadelphia.cbslocal.com;playerWidth=620;playerHeight=349;isShowIcon=true;clipId=11607919;flvUri=;partnerclipid=;adTag=News;advertisingZone=CBS.PHILLY%252Fworldnowplayer;enableAds=true;landingPage=;islandingPageoverride=false;playerType=STANDARD_EMBEDDEDscript;controlsType=overlayMost moms are happy to brag about their children’s accomplishments, but few actually take the time to rent out an entire billboard to sing their kid’s praises.
Single mom Ovella O’Neal showed her love for her 18-year-old son Aljelani “AJ” Igwe by renting out a massive sign in their hometown of Camden, New Jersey.
The sign, at Seventh and Cooper street, features a Igwe’s smiling school photo and reads, “A mother can’t raise a man, but I raised a gentleman.”
O’Neal, who created the billboard to celebrate her son’s graduation from LEAP Academy, says she hopes that the sign also serves as a way to inspire other single mothers.
“Lead by example because if I can do it you can too,” O’Neal said of her advice for other mothers during an interview with Philadelphia’s CBS 3 on Wednesday.
As for her rules for Igwe, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Igwe wasn’t allowed to have a cellphone or girlfriends. He also had to be home before dark. The mother also made sure that the family, which includes Igwe’s 4-year-old brother Gabriel, sits down for dinner every night.
The teen kept a strict schedule, waking up at 7 a.m. for school and heading to the Boys and Girls Club of Camden after classes to volunteer. He also served as a guard on LEAP’s basketball team.
Igwe’s accomplishment is something to celebrate in Camden, where 35 percent of adults have no completed high school and less that 8 percent hold bachelor’s degrees, according to CBS 3.
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However, the senior, who will officially graduate next week, is headed to Rowan University where he will study engineering.
And Igwe’s goals include giving back to his mother.
“My mom wanted a BMW so I’m going to try and get her that,” he told the news station. He also added that his goal is to eventually own a house.
As for letting Igwe let loose before heading to college? The mom says the no-cellphone and no-girlfriend rules will apply through summer.