For years, Khadijah bounced from homeless shelter to homeless shelter. She went to 12 schools in 12 years, but she never stopped believing in herself or the importance of education.

After graduating from high school, Khadijah was admitted to Harvard University. Read one of the inspiring essays that helped her land a college scholarship.
Other than through classes in school, in what areas (nonacademic or academic) have you acquired knowledge or skills? How?

I have not prepared for college or life in the traditional manner. For almost all of my life, I have never had a place to call home. I have questioned why I have to struggle so hard to succeed while others do not have to question whether they will go to college. However, there is one thing I have never questioned: my education. My life and circumstances have given me life skills, that in turn, have helped make me into the driven and passionate student I am today.

I have lived in many types of shelters and motels throughout my life, and as a result, I have learned to be flexible, independent, resourceful, and driven in achieving my goals. Whenever I am hungry, I know where to find food. Whenever I am depressed and stressed, I know exactly where to go to calm down. I tune out the prostitutes who try to sway me towards their way of thinking and ignore the drug addict's plea to try just one drug. I have learned how to tune out the patronizing pimp that snorts, "You ain't college bound. You live in Skid Row!" I have learned not to show fear when I am walking home late at night, and I have learned how to remain alive with almost no money. By moving around and experiencing so much, I have learned to adapt to many different situations, go after and accomplish my goals, and most importantly, thrive.

Interestingly enough, my difficult life encouraged my passion for learning. The refuge I sought when I was at my most depressed was school. School was free, it was amazing, and it stimulated the intellectually curious side of me. I began to love school. However, shelters were temporary, and as a result, the schools I went to were temporary as well. In kindergarten, I did not notice too much. I simply learned my ABCs and found happiness in school. However, by the time I reached elementary school, I figured out that my way of life had messed with the thing I loved the most. I could not let that happen. One moment in third grade defined my path today.
FROM: Don't Stop Believing!
Published on October 05, 2009


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