June 7th, 2012
02:20 PM ET

From scrubbing floors to Ivy League: Homeless student to go to dream college

by Vivian Kuo, CNN

Lawndale, North Carolina (CNN) - It's before sunrise, and the janitor at Burns High School has already been down the length of a hallway, cleaning and sweeping classrooms before the day begins.

This particular janitor is painstakingly methodical, even as she administers a mental quiz on an upcoming test. Her name is Dawn Loggins, a straight-A senior at the very school she cleans.

On this day, she maneuvers a long-handled push broom between rows of desks. She stops to pick up a hardened, chewed piece of gum. "This annoys me, because there's a trash can right here," she says.

The worst, she says, is snuff cans in urinals. "It's just rude and pointless."

With her long, straight dark blonde hair and black-rimmed glasses, Dawn looks a bit like Avril Lavigne. But her life is a far cry from that of a privileged pop star.

She was homeless at the start of the school year, abandoned by her drug-abusing parents. The teachers and others in town pitched in - donating clothes and providing medical and dental care. She got the janitorial job through a school workforce assistance program.

She's grateful for the work. But it's where she's going next, beyond the walls of Burns, that excites her most. She applied to four state colleges and one dream university. She'll graduate soon before heading off, leaving her dust pan behind.

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Filed under: After High School • College • Practice
soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. candyisdandy

    The community did such a good job caring for this girl. I just wish all communities embraced capable but underprivileged young people this way. I think I would have taken this girl into my home. It does take a village to raise a child. When you are young and vulnerable, personal responsibility can only get you so far. She provided the momentum and motivation for other people to help her the rest of the way. Proud of her!

    June 17, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
  2. Jay

    It just proves that hard work (she works AND is a an excellent student) reaps great rewards! She didn't give up, expect to be handed anything, and her determination paid off. 99% of students and parents should pay attention to her work ethic!

    June 15, 2012 at 11:30 am |
  3. marc

    She was abandoned by her drug-abusing parents Meth/Oxy addicts no doubt a lot of White Americans are hooked on drugs they just refuse to admit it. Love to put on that we are White and do no wrong act handed down by their forefathers so sad. Even with the fact that this is a article about a poor white girl with drug addict parents they still bring up Black people in their comments....so typical.

    June 14, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
  4. jameswalker601

    I don't think you can use slavery as an excuse on why African-Americans are so downtrodden. You are given every opportunity to advance in this country (even more so then white people). If a white person is objective and questions why people are getting everything handed to them they are called racists. I live in Washington, Dc. This year i have seen the opening of the Martin Luther King Memorial next to the Jefferson and Washington Memorial and Monument. I have sen the breaking of the ground for the new African-American History Smithsonian on the National Mall (Never mind that African-American history IS American History).

    I have applied for at least 50 government jobs in the past year and have scored in the top 3-4% on assessment tests. I still don't have a full time job. I finally called the USAJobs human resources to see what i could do to improve my chances. They told me there was none... "I am not a minority or a Veteran." And yet it is white people who are racist. Whites don't cause a fuss over inequalities against them. They, or at least I, work harder and don't look for things just to be handed to them.

    June 13, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
  5. rev Al and Jesse were right all along

    must be hard life getting a cushy janitor job from the school to support. just another example of whites only helping whites. RACISTS

    June 12, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
    • Joe

      Knock it off, it's the community that is helping her not just a certain race. Grow up and quit putting blame where it doesn't belong.

      June 12, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
  6. rev Al and Jesse were right all along

    Yet another example of how the white man is catered through life. Poor little white girl has a hard time so everyone gives her handouts and Harvard gives her a full ride. This sickens me. A black kid wouldn't get this kind of attention. America is racist. We need to stand up against this rampant inequality.

    June 12, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
    • Johnny


      June 12, 2012 at 7:31 pm |
  7. Len

    She'll fit in – if she has accomplished this much, her work will stand for itself. Besides, she is a liberal's dream, and last I checked, Harvard is pretty liberal.

    June 12, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
  8. Flamespeak

    An interesting story, but I doubt she will 'fit in' with most of the folks at Harvard. Still, I wish her all the best.

    June 8, 2012 at 4:02 am |
  9. casst122

    Amazing story. This young lady is the personification of Dr Freeman Hrabowski's approach to life "There is not time to be a victim."

    June 7, 2012 at 7:50 pm |
    • rev Al and Jesse were right all along

      easy for white people to say. your people weren't enslaved, murdered, taken from your people. whites didnt have 100's of years of oppression which is still lingering today. White people have it easy.

      June 12, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
      • Marjeta

        Don't be so dramatic, and stop going back, 100' s of years ago. It is not about black or white, but about human power!

        June 12, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
      • Andrea

        Oh waaa. Leave it to you to point out that it's a white girl. I'm guessing your black? Pretty rasicst there I'd say. White people may get hand outs from their own communities while African Americans sure do get it from the government.

        June 13, 2012 at 3:52 pm |