Homeless to Harvard-Inspiring and Touching Story of Beating the Odds

Sep 3, 2016 by

The journey of life is guaranteed to present a series of challenges.  For some people, those challenges are greater than one could ever imagine.  Unfortunately, in the world we live in, there are challenges that can be classified as unfair, unconscionable, or unbelievable.

The story of Dawn Loggins is one of these stories that break your heart and bring you joy at the same time.  Having Will Power mean one is able to beat the odds of what’s presented to them.  We are not able to dictate the cards we are dealt, but we do control how we play those cards and how we respond.  Dawn Loggins is a great example of how you can will yourself to making your dreams become a reality. Dawn’s story demonstrates great strength, perseverance and resilience with a determined spirit to not give up.

So, you are wondering, who is Dawn Loggins? Dawn was a straight A student at Burns High School in Lawndale, N.C., who endured her family being evicted many times to her family ultimately abandoning her and leaving her homeless.  Yes, homeless! Dawn had to fend for herself during a time she should be enjoying her teenage years, going to prom, graduating and planning for college. As you can imagine, she was scared, lost, and clueless about how to move forward.  But to everyone’s surprise, Dawn, rose to a challenge no child should ever have to tackle.  Dawn realized there was no time to be afraid, and instead became courageous and tenacious.  This persevering leader told NBC News “There were times when I felt like it would be easiest if I gave up, But it was never in me to give up, because I realized that I was never going to be successful unless I got an education.’’ What a remarkable perspective from a young person wiser than her age and her time.

Loggins determination to win and survive resulted in her staying with a friend, receiving help from the community and working as a custodian at the school from 6 a.m. until the students arrived at 7:40 a.m. every weekday. She would do another two hours of custodial work after school each day and then do the homework for her honors and advanced placement classes until midnight or later on most days. As a result, Dawn graduated with a 3.9 grade-point average and a 2,110 on her SAT, landing her a spot in the incoming freshman class at Harvard. Now Dawn will be the first person in her school to attend Harvard and the first in her family to attend college.  So, this tumultuous journey of hardship from going from homeless to Harvard forced Ms. Loggins to become an adult sooner than most teenagers’s her age, while equipping her with the tools she would need to successfully matriculate and graduate from a prestigious institution such as Harvard.

As you can see, it’s not a matter of how you start, but a matter of how you finish.  A will to succeed is not for the faintest of heart.   In this story you saw many characteristics exuded in Dawn Loggins that proves she is the epitome and a great example of how one can will themselves to overcome obstacles. These characteristics include:

  • Vision: to get an education
  • Determination: Dawn’s ability to complete homework  and study under candlelight as a way to remain in school, successfully take honors and advanced classes and graduate with a 3.9 GPA
  • Self-Efficacy: Dawn didn’t allow here circumstances to discourage her, but become a motivating factor. She believed enough in herself and her abilities.
  • Work Ethic: Dawn had a “by any means” attitude that inspired her discipline to balance a job, college applications and coursework.

When you are dealt a bad hand, assess the hand and look at how you can make lemonade out of the lemons given to you in that situation.  Great leaders don’t complain about the problems they have, they turn the problems into opportunities.  If you allow yourself to make excuses and have a pity party, then you give yourself permission to be forever nailed to that problem. Let the fight in Dawn Loggins and her will to beat all odds inspire you to never give up on your dreams. There is a champion in all of us. As leaders, it is our responsibility to empower the youth we encounter to tap into their inner champion and coach them to that winning place. Be that mentor, that encourager, that coach who challenges teenagers to Win Intentionally in Leading Life.

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