David Boone, who "gradually became homeless" after gang violence separated him from his mother and sisters, is beginning his first semester at Harvard this fall.
At Ebony.com he tells the story of how the Cleveland teen went from park benches to a 3.8 GPA. He gives thanks to the people who supported him along the way and shares his next goal: breaking the cycle of poverty in his family. Read an excerpt here:
As I settled onto the streets, I first tried to sleep on park benches at night, but I was too paranoid that something would happen to me; when a raccoon appeared out of the bushes and hissed at me, I knew I needed a better plan. So I put a system in place: I'd stay up all night, then I'd sleep during the day, turning my duffel bag into a "pillow" in the park. In public restrooms, I freshened up with soap and paper towels. When I would talk to my mother, I'd reassured her that I was fine because I didn't want her to worry…
As a junior, I began considering college. My principal had given me Ron Suskind's book A Hope in the Unseen, about Cedric Jennings' journey from the inner city to the Ivy League. That story gave me the courage not only to apply to college, but also to aim for academically rigorous schools. With a lot of support from Minds Matter, a weekend mentoring program I attended, I applied to 23 schools in total — universities as far away as Harvard, Yale and Princeton and as close as Cleveland State. I had my heart set on MIT, which is why my confidence was shaken when I didn't get in.
But my story doesn't end there. In March, I was accepted into Harvard University with a full scholarship. When I got the acceptance e-mail, I screamed, then called my mom and principal with the great news. "I'm so proud of you," my principal said before offering me two words of wisdom I'll always remember: "Stay grounded." …
With all that I've experienced, there has been a miracle: During my most challenging days, caring people have come along to lend me a hand. One day, I'd love to return to that favor.
Read more at Ebony.com.