Dawn Loggins did not have an easy life. Growing up, she went from school to school as her family moved from place to place. Her parents, both drug users, lost their jobs. The last home she lived in had no electricity or running water and the 18-year-old was forced to do her homework by candlelight.
Last summer Loggins left the North Carolina town of Lawndale to go to Raleigh where she took an academic summer course. When she returned to Lawndale, the rest of her family had gone. Their phones were cut off and she had no way to reach them. As reported by ABC News
, it was not until months later Loggins learned the family had gone to Tennessee for a visit and decided to stay.
She was alone—and homeless.
She stayed with various friends, sleeping on couches and floors while she began her senior year at Burns High School. The Grade A student was determined not to end up like her parents. She was quoted by CNN
When I was younger, I was able to look at all the bad choices—at the neglect, and the drug abuse, and everything that was happening—and make a decision for myself that I was not going to end up like my parents, living from paycheck to paycheck.
Loggins confided in a staff member at the high school. One day Sheryl Kolton, a custodian and bus driver at Burns Middle School, received a telephone call from a school counselor asking if Loggins could move in with her. She and her husband agreed. Loggins was also given a job as a part time custodian at her high school. Before and after classes she would sweep floors, empty garbage and clean urinals. After her last daily shift, she would do her homework.
Last Thursday was Graduation Day. KTVQ
reports when Loggins went up to receive her diploma she received a standing ovation. She later said, "All I could hear were their screams. I couldn't hear myself think. That's when I got overwhelmed and really emotional. I felt like all my hard work had finally been recognized."
She will be the first person from Burns High School ever to attend Harvard University.
Her family was present at the ceremony. CNN
quotes Loggins as saying, "I'm not mad at my parents. My mom and stepdad both think they did what's best for me." She added that her parents do love her although they do not show their love in a normal way. They have their own problems.
Loggins had applied to four universities but at the urging of counselors, she also applied to Harvard. Until she was accepted, she thought the Ivy League school was a long shot. Fox News
reports Loggins has been successful because she was willing to ask others for help and to work hard. She said,
All the help in the world isn't going to do you any good if you're not willing to work hard. I think people were willing to help me because they saw that I was reaching for my goals and I wasn't going to let anything stop me.
After her graduation, Loggins was rewarded with a week off. Then it's back to her custodial job until she's ready to leave for Harvard.