Here’s a story about a teenage student who was abandoned by her parents one summer while she was away from home. You may have heard or watched the story of Ashley Dawn Loggins, the 18-year-old high school student-janitress from Lawndale, North Carolina on TV via ABC, CNN, and all the other international networks.
Loggins’ parents left her while she was representing her school at a summer program at Meredith College in Raleigh. When she got home from that six-week affair, it wasn’t too long when she realized she was left alone at home. She eventually found out that her grandmother was already brought to a homeless shelter, his brother left as well, her parents were gone too. She found out later on that her parents moved to Tennessee and decided to stay there for good.
All her life, Loggins and her brother lived a difficult life. They lived in a dilapidated house where there was no electricity and cockroaches infested the place. “Disgusting” was how Ashley described their living condition in her CNN interview. She and her brother Shane would spend months without a bath because they grew up in a place where there was no running water. Because of this, there were times when she had to wear the same dress to school for many weeks. When she was younger, Loggins thought she was living a normal life but as she was growing up, she knew her life was not like the other children. She started to get teased, kids called her “dirty.”
Before her family left her, Loggins, in one of her interviews shared that while she was growing up her parents were already abusing drugs. Surviving from “paycheck to paycheck,” some days they were without food. This was not the first time she was left alone by her parents. In her younger years, she was left several times under her grandma’s care. When she lived with her, she added, trash was all over their house. She regretted that her grandma didn’t explain to her how important hygiene and taking care of oneself were. This lack of knowledge then led to more ridicule from her peers.
Despite the teasing, Loggins still found friends in school. One of them was Junie Barrett, a staff member with whom she confided. She shared with her how she and her brother had a difficult time studying because they couldn’t afford to buy candles to keep their house lit at night. There was a day, Barrett recounted, when Loggins and his brother asked her if they could wash their clothes using the school’s washing machine.
Loggins found another friend in the school’s guidance counselor, Robyn Putnam. The employees and other people in school were the ones who supported her when she was abandoned. They donated clothes and provided medical and dental care for Loggins in order to survive. That was how difficult her life was. She was then given a job as a janitress at Burns High so she could work while studying. Her being a working student was made possible through the workforce assistance program offered to her.
Loggins used her life’s hardships as an inspiration for her to strive harder. Her janitorial work didn’t hinder her from achieving her dreams. She studied harder in school where she was able to keep an A-average in all of her subjects. She promised herself that she would not just graduate from high school but she would also go to college.
She sent applications to different colleges through the guidance counselor and the school principal’s friend. She initially considered Davidson College, Warner Wilson College, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, and North Carolina State University. With a lot of pushing and encouragement from those who have been supportive of her from the very start, she eventually applied to Harvard University. Loggins fortunately got accepted by all the four schools where she applied to. It took a while before she finally got her last, but definitely not the least acceptance letter, from Harvard, no less! She was the first student in Burns High history to pass Harvard standards. That was the beginning of the fulfilment of Dawn Loggins’s dreams.
Harvard University has committed to paying for her tuition fee, room and board, and even assisting her in finding a job within the campus. Donations have reached her but this diligent lady said she wouldn’t be using the money for her personal needs.
Loggins is forming and spearheading a non-profit organization named ‘Uplift’ to inspire more young people like her and encourage them to keep working on their dreams despite their difficult times. In her online interviews, Loggins said, in the past, there were other students in worse situations than her. The only key to escape poverty, she said, is education.
During Loggins’s high school graduation, newspaper reports said her father was still in jail at Lincoln County Detention Center for drug-related charges, her mother moved back with her grandmother, while Loggins’s brother stayed in another town.
Having known that all the members of her family started living their own lives separately, instead of having hatred in her heart, Loggins used her unfortunate past as her inspiration to achieve what she has accomplished. When asked about her parents, Loggins said, she never harboured hatred from them for abandoning her. However, she promised herself, she would never end up like her dad or mom who lived from “paycheck to paycheck”.
Hardships did not deter her to unleash her highest potential. In fact, she even used her bitter past as an instrument to move on and excel in school. In the absence of her family, she worked hard to survive, and at the same time, strived harder not just to finish high school, but also enter college – the dream school, Harvard University.
This girl has proven to the world that unleashing one’s potential is achieved NOT by where one comes from or one’s financial standing. Loggins may have been left alone by the four most significant people in her life: her parents, her grandmother and brother, but she is now surrounded and supported by more and more people—not just from Burns High School but the whole world!
“One thing we may be sure of, however: For the believer all pain has meaning; all adversity is profitable. There is no question that adversity is difficult. It usually takes us by surprise and seems to strike where we are most vulnerable. To us it often appears completely senseless and irrational, but to God none of it is either senseless or irrational. He has a purpose in every pain He brings or allows in our lives. We can be sure that in some way He intends it for our profit and His glory.” – Jerry Bridges
Avelynn Regalado-Garcia is currently the Executive Vice President of Unleash International Corporation, a high-tech, high-touch, high-impact training company whose main mission is to unleash the highest potential in people towards success, happiness, and significance. For more than 20 years now, she passionately conducts seminars, workshops, conference, and conventions for top local and multinational companies, schools, and organizations in the country and abroad.
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