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From Homeless to Successful


Celebrity “rags to riches” stories are certainly inspiring, but there are thousands more out there with equally, and in some cases even more motivational tales of triumph. They’re just never heard.

So today we thought we would share some of those lesser-known stories from the regular Joes; the little guys; you know, people like you and me. The only difference between these folks and most of the rest of the population is that at one time or another, they were homeless.

And they’ve come a long way. These three people are the epitome of accomplishment. They have literally come from nothing—homelessness—to achieve greatness in anyone’s eyes.

So next time you’re feeling down on your luck, which let’s face it, happens to us all; remember these tales of success. No matter your situation, you can beat the odds and achieve your dreams. Become your own success story in this New Year.

From Homeless to Harvard: Liz Murray may be the most well known of these, well, lesser-known stories. She has appeared on Oprah and received the talk show host’s coveted “Chutzpah Award;” she has a book deal with Hyperion Publishing; she lives in a nice apartment in New York City; she tours the country giving inspirational talks and lectures; and, yes, she graduated from Harvard with a degree in psychology. But it certainly wasn’t a walk in the park to get where she is today.

Murray was born in 1980 to parents who were heavily into drugs. By the mid eighties, they had lost their apartment and were spending their welfare checks on their habits. When Murray was 15, her mother died of AIDS. This was her wakeup call.

Murray enrolled in public high school, completed four years of education in just two, all without the help of parents, family, or even a home. She studied tirelessly in the hallways of friends’ apartments and at just 17, graduated from high school.

The next step came when she saw an ad in the New York Times for a scholarship to Harvard. She applied, she got it, and then the media started taking notice. Who was this homeless Harvard student? What was her story? Well, she’s certainly an open book these days. 

From Homeless to CEO: Almost ten years ago, Stephanie Tillman and her family were evicted from their home and left with nothing; they wound up in a Salvation Army homeless shelter in Kansas. Several months later, they had made a few connections through the shelter, and soon, Stephanie was able to land a job at an engineering firm.

Tillman eventually branched out and in 2007 she opened her own graphic design company, Crossover Graphics. Over the years, the company has grown in leaps and bounds and today is a multi-million dollar company. 

The Tillmans are certainly in a very different financial situation these days, and were even able to donate a generous $25,000 to the Salvation Army in order to help open up a new shelter in their area.

From Homeless to Entrepreneur: Doina Oncel had the perfect life to onlookers: she had a husband who owned a successful business, a nice house, and children who adored her. But in reality, her husband was an abusive alcoholic, and finally in 2009, Doina decided she couldn’t take anymore. She took her children and left, just hoping that friends or family would take them in temporarily.

Sadly, nobody did. Doina ended up in a women’s shelter with her children for several months. She eventually landed a job and moved herself and her children into their own apartment, but this wasn’t enough. She had big dreams. She saved her money and spent it on business classes, and eventually started the join venture Entrepreneurial Moms of Toronto. Today, Doina has moved up and on to owning her very own PR Company, Doina’s Infinite Solutions, and is well on her way to making a six-figure salary.

Remember, no matter your situation, you can beat the odds and achieve your dreams too.

 What has been your biggest financial achievement?

Photos Courtesy of: See-Ming Leegcoldironjr2003Diego3336


Posted 10:51 AM

Tags: education
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