When Toni Morgan was being kicked out of high school for the last time, her principal told her she would never have a university education. Battling homelessness and fighting poor grades, it was not the first time that she had been suspended, but that was when she decided never to go back.
She was determined that the principal’s words would not define her life, and so began a journey that saw her go from living in shelters, to being accepted at Ryerson University after ten years of working in telemarketing jobs to raise the money for a university degree. But that was just the beginning.
Today, Morgan works with youth justice initiatives and teaches at Centennial College. But she’s got her sights set higher. In 2014, she applied to Harvard for a Master’s in Education, and when she was accepted in the spring of 2015, it was one of her proudest moments. In an interview with the Toronto Star, she said:
“There are a lot of people who have been told they aren’t capable of something and as someone who has experienced homelessness and lived in poverty, I know others can identify with these situations.”
The next obstacle presented itself in the form of the costly tuition fee for her program.
But her resolve has taken her from a homeless teen with few prospects, to being accepted into Harvard, and she was determined not to let money be the difference between achieving her dreams and regretting what might have been. So she set up a crowd-funding campaign to cover the cost of attending Harvard, and discovered just how many people were also rooting hard for her when the campaign was an overwhelming success.
“When you’ve been in a place that I was at and you’re so alone and you feel that no one really cares, getting to a point where everyone knows you and your school is incredible and humbling,” Morgan said. “It just confirms everything you have worked for and the journey you’ve been through.”
Resolve can take you further than you can ever imagine, and often you might find, like Toni Morgan, that once you have determined to begin the journey, there are many hands willing to reach out and help you succeed.
“I am an unlikely success story so this is incredible,” she said. “The fact that Toronto banded together makes me feel like the sky is the limit. I feel so humbled.”
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