Deserted By Parents, She Went From Homeless To Harvard | Today Show MSNBC
But that still didn’t prepare the senior at Burns High School in Lawndale, N.C., for the shock of coming home from a prestigious academic program last summer to discover her family had abandoned her. It took her months to learn that her parents and two younger sisters had gone to Tennessee, because she could not reach them; their phone service had been disconnected.
One summer later, Loggins is preparing for her freshman year at Harvard University after a remarkable rise from hardscrabble circumstances to acceptance to the class of 2016 in one of the most prestigious schools in the world.
Relying on a part-time job as a school custodian and the generosity of others in her community, Loggins persevered to remain a straight-A student. Her reward was becoming the first person from her high school to ever be accepted to Harvard.
‘It was never in me to give up’
“There were times when I felt like it would be easiest if I gave up,’’ the 18-year-old told NBC News. “But it was never in me to give up, because I realized that I was never going to be successful unless I got an education.’’
Loggins worked as a custodian at school from 6 a.m. until the students arrived at 7:40 a.m. every weekday, but she stayed focused on her schoolwork. She would do another two hours of custodial work after school each day and then do the homework for her honors and advanced placement classes until midnight or later on most days. It resulted in a 3.9 grade-point average and a 2,110 on her SAT.
“If this is the buffet of knowledge, then Dawn is a young lady who has come to class and engorged herself,’’ her U.S. History teacher, Larry Gardner, told NBC News.
After being abandoned by her parents, Loggins initially crashed on couches at friends’ houses until school bus driver Sheryl Kolton, the mother of a friend, opened up her home when she was apprised of Dawn’s situation by her guidance counselor.
“I think that anyone would have done the same thing,’’ an emotional Kolton told NBC News. “You have a good child in need of a place to stay and wants to succeed.’’