we don’t get there by ourselves – wherever there is

As many writers and/or bloggers do, I maintain an idea file – a collection of quotes, images, links, conversations, thoughts, obsessions, drawings, notes, and other flotsam – that I turn to when I want to write a blog post, or to inspire a scene in a larger work.

I call it my Grab Bag of Awesome.

Elizabeth has been here the last few days, so there hasn’t been a lot of writing time. Which is fine, because there has been a lot of awesome. I was going to post the link below, with a couple of photos from our stop at Harvard a couple of years ago, and call it good.

I can’t do it.

This story wants more, deserves more.

As we’ve come to the end of the school year, many of the good news stories that caught my eye related to high school and college seniors getting ready to move on to the next part of their lives, be that college, technical school, graduate school, real world jobs, or travel.

One story stood out for me, and maybe not for the reasons you’d expect.

Check out this post on CNN about a high school senior named Dawn Loggins, who went from abandoned and homeless to graduating with plans to attend Harvard on a full ride this fall.

Seriously. Give it a click and read her story.

The things that stood out for me when I first read the story still blow me away.

Dawn is not angry at her parents or the world or her circumstances so far. This is a girl with enormous faith in herself. This is a young woman who has been tested by life and who has the compassion and the guts and the determination to rise above.

And here is the second thing. She has no intention of rising above all by herself.

Many people have been moved by Dawn’s story. Moved to send good wishes and to donate funds to help her overcome any remaining financial hurdles. Dawn doesn’t want the money for herself. She is confident in her ability to work for what she needs. Instead,

She hopes to start a nonprofit organization to help other teens who’ve had obstacles in their educations, using the funds that have been sent to her. There are more than 200 students listed as homeless in Cleveland County, where Lawndale is located.

“There are so many kids whose futures aren’t so sure, and they need help more than I do,” she says. “I want them to be able to use my story as motivation. And I want the general public to realize that there are so many kids who need help.”

We typically think of homelessness as an urban problem. This story is a perfect – and not isolated – example of how it can and does happen everywhere. Maybe even where you live. In face, almost definitely where you live.

School’s out for the summer. Yay!

When classes start again in the fall, your local schools – at all levels – would welcome you as a volunteer. You might not be able to tell who the students like Dawn are – the students without stable homes, the students on free-and-reduced lunches, the students with stories too heart-breaking to share with you.

But if you show up, you will help. You will help simply by being there, by showing up every time you say you will, by saying with your presence that these kids matter. And what a gift it is to know that we matter, especially when we are young and vulnerable.


  • Dawn isn’t going to Harvard on a full ride. She says she is expected to pay a percentage but it is, as she puts it “manageable”. She won the county and state ACE award, last night being presented with a $1000 scholarship. She will now be entered into the National competition which carries a prize of a $10,000 scholarship.

    • Thank you for the additional information you provided, Carol. The CNN article (where I found my information) states:
      Not only was Dawn accepted to Harvard, she got a full ride. She was offered tuition, room and board, as well as assistance finding an on-campus job.

      It sounds like you know Dawn personally. It must be wonderful to be part of a community rallying around this young woman in this way.

      In my experience (assisting many local high school students with college applications, essays, and financial aid over the last several years), even a “full ride” scholarship generally includes a work-study component.

      Sometimes work-study jobs are related to a student’s athletic team or their field of study, but not necessarily. It is a beneficial part of the package, keeping students tangibly invested in their own success. And it is usually, as you quote Dawn saying, “manageable.”

      Please pass on to Dawn my every wish for her success at Harvard and beyond.

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