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Monday, April 15, 2024

Homeless girl who attended 12 schools in 12 years defies all odds to survive, bags Sociology degree at Harvard University

A homeless girl named Khadijah Williams has fought all odds to achieve exceptional academic feats despite facing the challenges of homelessness. She bagged a Sociology degree at Harvard University in the United States.

Khadijah was born in California, to a mother who struggled with drug addiction and mental illness. She became homeless at the age of six, and spent most of her childhood moving from one shelter to another, sometimes sleeping on the streets or in abandoned buildings.

In the process of moving from one shelter to the other, Khadijah attended 12 schools in 12 years where she often faced bullying, violence, and discrimination from her peers and teachers.

Despite these challenges, she never gave up on her education as she loved reading and learning, and saw school as a way to escape her harsh reality. She enrolled herself in various programs and extracurricular activities for low-income students.

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Some of the programs she enrolled in were Upward Bound and A Better Chance. Khadijah also sought out mentors and role models who encouraged her to pursue her goals.

Khadijah excelled academically and graduated fourth in her class from Jefferson High School, United States with a 3.9 grade point average. She applied to more than 20 colleges and received acceptance letters from many prestigious institutions.

Harvard University was one of the universities that accepted her which is her top choice. Khadijah said she chose Harvard University because she wanted to learn from the best and make a difference in the world.

Khadijah graduated from Harvard with a bachelor’s degree in Sociology setting a record as the first person in her family to earn a college degree. She also became a nationally recognized advocate for homeless youth, sharing her story with various media outlets, including Oprah Winfrey’s show.

She stated that she is who she is presently because there are people who believe in her,  took the time to support and motivate her. Khadijah added that they gave her the tools to succeed, which made the difference between success and, the unfortunate reality of homelessness.

“When you grow up homeless, you feel as though you don’t matter because society ignores you. I wanted to capture some of the belief they have in themselves from going to a place like Harvard,” she said.

She expressed her hope that her story would inspire others to believe in themselves and their dreams, no matter how impossible they may seem. Khadijah also urged people to recognize that homelessness is not an identity or a label, but an experience that can happen to anyone.

She has received different notable awards and recognition for her motivational impact. Khadijah was awarded the Horatio Alger National Scholarship, which recognizes students who have overcome adversity and demonstrated excellence in academics and community service.

She was named one of Glamour magazine’s Top 10 College Women in 2010, which honors outstanding female students who are making a difference on their campuses. Khadijah was featured in the documentary film “Homeless to Harvard: The Liz Murray Story”, which tells the story of another homeless girl who graduated from Harvard.

Khadijah was also invited to speak at various events and conferences, such as TEDxHarvardCollege, Harvard Alumni Association, and Soles4Souls. She currently works as a program officer at the Gates Foundation, where she supports initiatives that aim to improve educational outcomes for low-income students.

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