SPRING, Texas - Da'Vion Tatum remembers asking his mom for an algebra book. Tatum was in the first grade.
"My mom was like, 'I ain't ever seen nothing like this before,'" Tatum recalled laughing.
He's now a senior at Westfield High School in Spring ISD. He says he taught himself algebra. His mother and sister were supportive of his love for learning and allowed him to chart his own path.
"They really are my rock and my foundation," Tatum added. "And, they really help me to really be a better me. I learned a lot growing up intelligent Black women."
He credits their support and encouragement for his accomplishments including his acceptance to Harvard University.
"I'm honored. I seriously -- words can't even describe how I feel," Tatum said.
He got into 11 of the 12 universities he applied to including 7 Ivy League schools.
While Tatum may have been surprised by all those acceptance letters, his teachers were not.
"He's just extraordinary," said Tracey Waller, AP English teacher at Westfield High School. "When I say that he just probably one of the smartest kiddos I have ever had the chance of meeting."
His teachers note Tatum is also a musician, an athlete, and mentor to other students.
"He's not just in it for himself. Da'Vion started tutoring groups, mentoring groups for his peers," explained David Mason, Principal at Westfield High School.
Tatum is also the first black male valedictorian at his school and a published author. He says the challenges black men face in the U.S. are issues that motivate him to keep pushing even when times get tough.
"Being a black man, being in the position that I'm in, doing the things that I do, and bringing awareness to the things that I bring awareness to, it's all part of a bigger picture. It's all part of a bigger thing. I feel like it's what kind of pushes me forward. That's what motivates me and inspires me -- knowing that I'm part of something bigger than myself," he concluded.
Tatum hopes to purse degrees in medicine, engineering, and law at Harvard.
He's also gotten more than $700,000 worth in scholarships including the highly competitive Coca Cola scholarship and Ron Brown scholarship which helps Black students access higher education.