The Woman Who Went from Homeless to Harvard Has Started a Family of Her Own

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Liz Murray's childhood was consumed by drug-addicted parents, hunger and homelessness. When Liz was 16, her schizophrenic mother, who she'd been taking care of for years, died of complications related to AIDS. That's when Liz decided to turn her attention to her studies. Liz made a spectacular turnaround and ended up getting accepted into Harvard University.

It was a challenging new environment for Liz, without a doubt, but she persevered and graduated. During this time, her father would also die of AIDS-related complications, but Liz, drawing from her experience with her late mother, knew those final months of his life were her last chance to do something with her dad that she never could do with her mom: reconnect.

"I learned from that time period that, even though the past is always kind of right there, you can decide to start over with a loved one," Liz tells OWN. "I lost my mom, and we did not have enough connection at the time, and I was not going to let that happen again."

Since her appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Liz married her high school sweetheart, James, and they had two children together, Liam and Maya. Liz says she sees aspects of her parents in her children and in her parenting. Liam, for example, does things that remind Liz of her father, and Liz found herself singing the same lullabies to Maya that her mom once sung to her when she was a baby—without realizing what she was doing.

Here, Liz explains how she let go of any bitterness that may have colored her view of her parents—and why she's focused on gratitude instead.