From Homeless to Harvard

<p>She</a> finally has a home: Harvard - Los Angeles Times</p>

<p>Excerpt:</p>

<p>Quietly, the 18-year-old settled into an empty table, flipped open her physics book and focused. Nothing mattered now except homework.</p>

<p>"No wonder you're going to Harvard," a girl teased her.</p>

<p>Around here, Khadijah is known as "Harvard girl," the "smart girl" and the girl with the contagious smile who landed at Jefferson High School only 18 months ago.</p>

<p>What students don't know is that she is also a homeless girl.</p>

<p>As long as she can remember, Khadijah has floated from shelters to motels to armories along the West Coast with her mother. She has attended 12 schools in 12 years; lived out of garbage bags among pimps, prostitutes and drug dealers. Every morning, she upheld her dignity, making sure she didn't smell or look disheveled.</p>

<p>On the streets, she learned how to hunt for their next meal, plot the next bus route and help choose a secure place to sleep -- survival skills she applied with passion to her education.</p>

<p>Only a few mentors and Harvard officials know her background. She never wanted other students to know her secret -- not until her plane left for the East Coast hours after her Friday evening graduation.</p>

<p>
[quote]
"I still remember that exact number," Khadijah said. "It meant only 0.01 students tested better than I did."

[/quote]
</p>

<p>For some reason... I chuckled.</p>

<p>Didn't they do a movie not long back that was the same as this story?
Yup "Homeless to Harvard: The Liz Murray Story" </p>

<p>Homeless</a> to Harvard: The Liz Murray Story (2003) (TV)</p>

<p>^ Me too...</p>

<p>^ Yes, I remember watching that on the Hallmark Channel. My guidance councillor even made a point of it to people worried about financial aid.</p>

<p>It's a similar concept, but not really the same story. After reading the article (and crying quite a bit), I'm impressed by her persistence and will to succeed. 12 schools in 12 years, commuting hours by bus... Also, it's great seeing success stories for the groups supporting kids in the rough parts of LA. An incredible story- she has a great future.</p>

<p>I did not say the stories were identical but they are very similar. Both were/are homeless, both had high test scores in lower grades, both accepted into Harvard.</p>

<p>In the story I linked the girl did not graduate Harvard. After a while she left that school to attend another, rumored to be Columbia because of either low grades or not enough money. I don't know if she graduated from Columbia or not. She is an authored and motivational speaker now.</p>

<p>It would be nice to have a follow up article in a few years to see how this girl is doing in Harvard.</p>

<p>I know Trisha London (the one who took her in) - she is AMAZING and goes to such extraordinary lengths to help these kids.</p>

<p>And it's not just this one...she helps literally hundreds of kids and has been doing this for years. The graduation rate is ~95% of students she helps, and the most recent set of graduates includes students who will attend Harvard Medical School and Stanford Medical school in the fall.</p>

<p>South</a> Central Scholars</p>

<p>According to wikipedia Liz Murray "left Harvard in 2003 to care for her sick father; she resumed her education at Columbia University to be closer to him. In 2006 her father died of AIDS[1]. As of May 2008, she was back at Harvard working towards her degree[1][2] with plans to graduate with a degree in psychology in June 2009[3]."</p>

<p>I read about a young man at Yale that was homeless and lived in a run-down hotel with his Mom and siblings. His Mom always made sure he did his homework and read. Both very inspriational stories.</p>

<p>Thanks for the link. Wonderful story. I thought the Harvard interviewer had a strange comment:</p>

<p>
[quote]
I told them, 'If you don't take her, you might be missing out on the next Michelle Obama. Don't make this mistake.

[/quote]
</p>

<p>Sorry, I don't understand. I see no similarity other than the fact that Michelle Obama and this young woman are black.</p>

<p>If I'm not mistaken, Michelle grew up pretty poor but definitely not homeless. I wasn't sure I got the quote, either.</p>

<p>Maybe she just meant the young woman seemed like she would be "going places" and I'm sure Harvard would want to say one day, that she attended their school. (even if she graduated somewhere else) Anyone with that tenacity, should be a role model to many.
Mrs. Obama grew up in a 1 bedroom flat. She is quoted as saying "I am a statistical oddity. A black girl, brought up on the South Side of Chicago... I'm certainly not supposed to be standing here."</p>

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<p>They are also both high academic performers who despite very limited financial means made their way to the very finest schools. Michelle Obama has become a very prominent and highly-admired national and international figure. Perhaps they see that potential in this young woman too.</p>

<p>
[quote]
When her college applications were due in December, James and Patricia London of South Central Scholars invited Khadijah to their home in Rancho Palos Verdes to help her write her essays.

[/quote]
"Help her write her essays"? Or edit her essays? </p>

<p>
[quote]
There is no talk of coming home of for Thanksgiving or Christmas.

[/quote]
Is she turning her back on her little sister, Jeanine? What will become of her? Should she have perhaps attempted to get guardianship of her?</p>

<p>Where is child services on this? Shouldn't they find a home for the younger sister?</p>

<p>it just shows that if you want something you work hard and take it. No excuses and no handouts.</p>

<p>
[quote]
it just shows that if you want something you work hard and take it. No excuses and no handouts.

[/quote]

Oh? Is she paying Harvard's $52,000 COA then? Oh... okay... yeah...</p>

<p>While she may not be paying at Harvard, she's breaking a cycle of poverty. I truly believe this "handout" will be repaid many times over.</p>

<p>Homeless</a> to Harvard: The Liz Murray Story (2003) (TV)</p>