For Homeless Youth, Getting an Education is Easier Said Than Done

High School Senior Dawn Loggins (CNN)

Concerns regarding student loans are increasing.  Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are making ample time to discuss this issue in the presidential campaign. However, the majority of Americans do not realize how fortunate they are. Most of the college students and graduates who are concerned about their student loan debt did not need to worry about where they could live, eat, or sleep when they were growing up.

Forty percent of the nation’s homeless population is made up of families with young children.

Dawn Loggins, a high school senior from Lawndale, North Carolina, was one of the children who did not have any home while growing up. She moved from one place to another constantly. However, her future is bright. She applied to four colleges in North Carolina and one Ivy League school—Harvard. She was accepted by each of them. After graduating from high school, Dawn will pack her bags and pursue her dreams in Cambridge.

Growing up, Dawn faced multiple obstacles. She lived in a house without electricity and running water, forcing she and her brother to retrieve fresh water. She wore the same clothes repeatedly and did not have any opportunity to shower. She was bullied relentlessly in middle school. When she was twelve, she moved in with her mother and stepfather after having lived with her grandmother. Things did not get better, as her stepfather lost his job and faced multiple evictions. In the midst of this, Dawn and her brother missed school for several months.

It was in 2010, when Dawn and her brother enrolled in a new school, that their guidance counselor, Robyn Putnam, saw the potential in Dawn and her brother. She supported them as they took online classes to catch up academically. Dawn was invited to North Carolina Governor’s School camp in the summer of 2011. Returning from the camp, she discovered that her parents had abandoned her. In the siblings’ time of need, the Burns High School community stepped in. Dawn and her brother stayed over at their friends’ places and found a temporary home with a school custodian.

While applying to colleges, Dawn was urged to “aim high” and apply to an Ivy League school. Dawn took that advice and applied to Harvard.

Dawn Loggins’ story is very inspiring; however, it is also a startling reminder of the prevalence of youth homelessness. This issue deserves the same amount of attention as the student loan issue is getting.

– Stephanie Johnston, Development & Communications Intern

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2 Responses to For Homeless Youth, Getting an Education is Easier Said Than Done

  1. Carol Beaver says:

    Your last sentence is the reason Dawn allowed the Shelby Star to their initial 4-part series on her, the story that started all the publicity.
    She realised that there were 200 homeless students in her small county alone. She wanted to put a face on younth homelessness. She also wanted to show others in her situation that you can work your way out, it can be done.

  2. homelessnesslaw says:

    This is a really important point. People need to know what youth homelessness is all about, and it needs to be destigmatized for those experiencing it.

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