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5 Homeless People Who Beat The Odds


The United States has seen better days from an economic standpoint. Since the housing crisis of 2008, more individuals and families have found themselves homeless and fighting for the chance to find the American Dream. Fortunately, there are plenty of role models out there, even when the odds are seemingly stacked against you, that you can learn from.

A 2012 article on Business Insider looked at some of the most amazing high school kids graduating that year and found an astonishing three, who had overcome the disadvantages of homelessness to accomplish great things. We’ll look at them as well as two other Homeless People Who Defied The Odds. With people like these showing the strength of the human spirit, it’s a little harder to justify complaining and giving up.

1. David Boone

Accomplishment: Full ride to Harvard

Boone’s home was burned down by gang members in retaliation for him refusing to join their batch of losers. He didn’t let it get him down, though, and credits faith in God for getting through the difficult times. Boone wants to be an engineer because he believes “that engineers are the key to solving the worlds most pressing issues, both technological and social,” he said in comments to BI. 

“The way that engineers think leaves the door open to immeasurable possibilities and that is very important to the progression of society,” Boone added.

Boone also credited the Cleveland-based Minds Matter program for achieving his dream of going to Harvard on a full ride.

“Minds Matter has been excellent,” Boone said. “I mean this with all the sincerity possible; I would not be going to Harvard if it weren’t for MM. Minds Matter for me has fostered an environment that was not only comfortable, but productive in the sense that when I did something well, they didn’t spend an eternity celebrating it because the people there truly believed that I could do better. I gained so much confidence in my academic capabilities. MM helped me to keep strong when I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders and my mentors in particular, gave me something to believe in.”

Boone continued: “I truly believe that I can change the world and I will not consider myself a success until I do.”

2. Samantha Garvey

This student from Brentwood High School in Long Island, New York, overcame the odds of being homeless to be named a semi-finalist in the Intel Science Talent Search. While she would not advance, her paper “The Effects Of The Physical Environment And Predators On Phenotypic Plasticity In Geukensia demissa” won her praise from President Barack Obama.

Garvey’s objective with her study was to monitor the adaptations of mussels while in an area populated with Asian shore crabs. Through careful observation, Garvey was able to prove that mussels “that were in direct contact with crabs did in fact develop thicker shells as a form of resistance.”

Garvey proved this while her family was undergoing extreme financial difficulties that would eventually place them in a homeless shelter.

On The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Garvey confessed that “Being homeless was really scary … It was just the worst feeling in the world, feeling like your family is being torn apart. You’re being tossed out on the street and no one cares.”

In 2012, Garvey became the recipient of a $50,000 scholarship from AT&T. 

3. Michael Oher

Michael Oher, current Baltimore Ravens offensive lineman, subject of the movie The Blind Side, and author of the book I Beat The Odds: From Homelessness, To The Blind Side, And Beyond, had nothing but football and the clothes on his back when his adopted family took notice. With their guidance, he was able to make the grade while continuing to focus on the sport he loved.

Oher would eventually graduate from the University of Mississippi in 2009 with a degree in criminal justice. He would go on to play in the NFL, winning the AFC Championship and Super Bowl XLVII for the 2012-2013 season.

4. Dani Johnson

From the ages of three to 16, Dani Johnson was molested and abused. As a young woman, she found herself out on the streets with a substance abuse problem. She eventually landed a job as a cocktail waitress and became determined to turn her life around.

Forbes recently detailed Johnson’s rise from the streets in a two-part article. Johnson began selling a weight loss program and found she had a natural knack for it. In spite of her poor grades in high school, she was impassioned to learn about successful people and how they got that way. In just two years, she went from homeless to millionaire.

In Johnson’s own words:

“When you’re told that you’re stupid, and I was told that my whole life, I knew I had to work 10 times as hard as everyone else. You know you’re going to have to spend more time learning and asking more questions.

I decided that I was going to learn from successful people. Even now, I have a notepad in hand and I ask questions. ‘How did you do it? What was the defining moment? What’s the big tip you can give me?’

If you’re always learning, you’re always growing. This [habit] has carried me out of bad situations and set me up for big situations.”

5. Dawn Loggins

Burns High School graduate Dawn Loggins’ story will break your heart. The Lawndale, North Carolina, girl was left homeless and penniless by her parents. She returned home from a summer program for natural science to find herself alone. Or at least, she thought she was alone because once her community heard what had happened, they rallied around Loggins in time for her senior year.

Thanks to Lawndale, she didn’t have to worry about food, shelter, or emotional support. The outpouring motivated her to work hard, devoting her time to the cross-country team, photography club, the National Honor Society, and her school’s band. In the end, her grades excelled and she ended up with a full scholarship to Harvard University, her dream school.

In comments to CNN, Loggins explained her motivation: “I think what motivates me is the fact that when I was younger, I was able to look at all the bad choices: at the neglect and the drug abuse … And I was not going to have to ask myself, am I going to buy food this month or am I going to pay rent?”

These five homeless people overcame insurmountable odds to get to where they are at this point in their young lives. In doing so, they’re inspirations to what you and I can accomplish as we face the challenges of school and life.

[Image via Ellen TV]

Written by

's work appears regularly here at 4tests.com and across the web for sites, such as The Inquisitr and Life'd. A former high school teacher, his passion for education has only intensified since leaving the classroom. At 4tests, he hopes to continue passing along words of encouragement and study tips to ensure you leave school ready to face an ever-changing world.

Website: http://aricmitchell.blogspot.com/

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