Homeless to Harvard: Two Students With Inspiring Stories
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Two students this year proved that dreams really do come true, with their inspiring stories of overcoming adversity to attend one of the most prestigious colleges in the country.
Dawn Loggins is a recent graduate of Burns High School in Lawndale, North Carolina. Growing up, her parents did not provide their children with much. The family lived without electricity or running water, so staff at the children's schools would provide them with candles to do their homework. They helped with laundry by doing it for them at the school's facilities and even allowed the children to use the gymnasium's showers.
As if that wasn’t a bad enough situation, Dawn’s parents abandoned her during the summer before her senior year. The straight-A student was accepted to the prestigious Governor’s School summer program in North Carolina. Her school’s guidance counselor drove her to the program and helped her get appropriate clothing. When she returned from the program, her parents were gone.
They had moved to Tennessee without her. The school rallied around her, getting her a janitorial job at her high school, and Sheryl Kolton, a custodian and bus driver for Burns High School took her in. Dawn kept her grades up, participated in extracurricular activities, and did community service projects while working through her senior year. She applied to four universities in North Carolina, but then applied to Harvard as her dream school.
All her hard work paid off when she received a "likely" letter from Harvard that said, “Dear Ms. Loggins, I’m delighted to report that the admissions committee has asked me to inform you that you will be admitted to the Harvard College class of 2016. …We send such an early positive indication only to outstanding applicants…” It's rare to recieve a likely letter from Harvard, so it's pretty clear that Dawn hit it out of the park.
David Boone's story is very different from Dawns, but no less inspiring. David grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, where he attended the prestigious MC2STEM High School. At age 14, his home was destroyed by gang members in retaliation for his refusal to join. Without the funds to purchase a new home, David and his siblings were forced to split up in order to find open beds at local homeless shelters. When shelters were full for the night, he slept on park benches.
MC2STEM High School's principal, Jeff McClellan, was so impressed by David's hardworking spirit that he offered the student a place to stay so that he could focus on his studies. Throughout his hardships, David has blogged for the Huffington Post about his journey, talking about everything from his encounters with gangs to how he felt when he recieved his college acceptance letters.
David was accepted to over 20 colleges his year, including Yale, Princeton, and Cornell, but he'll be wearing Harvard crimson this coming fall.
Harvard has a steep price tag, at about $60,000 per year, but neither Dawn nor David will be paying. Harvard's financial aid system is entirely need based, and families with total incomes of less than $65,000 per year are not asked to contribute anything to their children's education.