CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Life is about taking chances and beating odds, especially for one local family that managed to triumph six times over.
They call themselves the "Mitchell Men," six brothers ranging in ages from 24 to 40, who grew up with what they describe as the humble beginnings of sharing a single room. But they say they learned words that continue to stick with them to this day.
"They made the impossible possible so there was nothing we could not do," Dr. Shawn Mitchell said. "We raised the standard for each other and required a lot from each other."
At an early age, they competed with each other in sports. That spirit of competition then transferred to their school work, leading the brothers to attend and graduate from South Carolina State University.
Eventually, the oldest son, Edward, became the first doctor in their family.
"When my oldest brother became a doctor I saw it was possible for me to become a doctor so I'm going to go to that standard," Shawn said.
And when the bar was raised for all the younger brothers to follow, they took the challenge and ran with it.
The next oldest, Kevin, became a civil engineer and now attends the Citadel for his master's degree. Next in line, Ryan, has a nursing degree, while Shawn is a doctor of Dentistry. The youngest brothers are twins Julian and Trevor; Julian is a mechanical engineer and Trevor recently received a BS in Nursing.
The brothers credit their parents, Mattie and Edward.
"They instilled the value of education and the benefits of hard work", Ryan said.
Their mother has been a teacher for 39 years while their father is a retired longshoreman. They say there were certain specific things they expected of their boys growing up, especially with all of the odds stacked against many young black males.
"Do your best you and do and no one is a failure if they keep trying", Mattie Mitchell said. Along with messages of encouragement for the boys, she and her husband spent a lot of time talking to them and telling them that they could succeed.
The brothers were involved in extra curricular activities and church was a big part of their life.
When asked what advice she could give to other parents, the matriarch said, "Spend time with your children, discipline them and keep them focused.
"No matter where you come from it is possible to go out and become what you want to become with God and your community," Shawn said.
To give back to the community, Dr. Shawn Mitchell started a nonprofit in Memphis where he is based called project dream which gets under privileged kids focused on math,science, and technology. He hopes to soon expand the program to the Charleston area.