Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.
Dawn Loggins, a student at Burns High School in Lawndale, North Carolina, knows what it's like to live without electricity or running water. But she's working hard as a janitor at the school and has been accepted into Harvard's class of 2016. CNN's profile garnered a very interesting conversation about working your way up in life, and the factors that contribute to success. That is, the oft-referenced American dream.
Several readers talked about the movie potential for this story, a la "Good Will Hunting," and even getting Matt Damon to play the role of Loggins' brother.
ForGoodOfAll: "Wow, what a heartwarming story. It just goes to show that there are plenty of kind-hearted and caring people in this country. I am sure that a movie will be made about this girl's life, too. Congratulations and best wishes, Dawn!"
t0ofly2: "This is like Good Will Hunting."
kit8: "There is a lot of Goodwill in this story and Hunting for (Matt) Damon to play her brother might be a good idea. But something tells me he is to big a star and would be to old."
Robert Buchler: "I hope they find a way to give this bright, brave, lovely young woman a full scholarship. She is an inspiration. Why can't they make a reality show about her?"
One of the biggest conversations that took place was about the perspective of the country as a land of opportunity. Some drew political parallels.
Dionysus86: "Beautiful story. It should be noted that once again the American dream is achieved through a combination of hard work and a good support system. Our political arena has become so polarized to the extremes that we tend to think that either people should be given everything or that they should brave everything alone. We forget that there is a middle ground where people can receive a helping hand, capitalize on the opportunity through dedicated effort, and succeed."
Laughing__Man: "That was reasonable, bipartisan and probably accurate. We'll never hear anything like that from the halls of Congress."
The idea of a community helping someone succeed, and not the government, was encouraging for many. FULL POST
Bob Welch, a guitarist who played with Fleetwood Mac before launching a solo career, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his chest, Nashville, Tennessee, police said Thursday. He was 66.
Welch's wife found his body in their Nashville home about 12:15 p.m., Nashville Police spokesman Don Aaron said.
"All indications are that it was a suicide," Aaron said. A suicide note was found, he said.
Welch played guitar with Fleetwood Mac starting in 1971. He left the group in late 1974, just before Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks joined the group.FULL STORY
The CNN Daily Mash-up is a roundup of some of the most interesting, surprising, curious, poignant or significant items to appear on CNN.com in the past 24 hours. We top it with a collection of the day's most striking photographs from around the world.
Dawn Loggins is a remarkable young woman from a remarkable North Carolina town. After having lived in a house with no electricity or water, she became homeless at the start of her senior year of high school, abandoned by her drug-abusing parents. But she kept going to school, earning straight A's during the day and scrubbing the floors at night. With her community rallying around her, Loggins will head off to her dream college this fall. She had help, but it was her own determination that made it happen.
When I was younger, I was able to look at all the bad choices - at the neglect, and the drug abuse, and everything that was happening - and make a decision for myself that I was not going to end up like my parents, living from paycheck to paycheck.
You can see more of Loggins' story on "AC 360" on CNN tonight at 8 ET.
The four-year slog through high school seems like a long time to many students as they near graduation. But they have nothing on Ann Lupica Colagiovanni, who had to quit school at 17 - because of the Great Depression. But on Wednesday, CNN affiliate WJW reports, Shaker Heights High School in Ohio conferred an honorary high school diploma on Colagiovanni at age 97. FULL POST
The UEFA European Football Championship is second only to the World Cup in size and prestige, and it's equally rich in storylines. But right now, one storyline seems to overwhelm all others.
The story today is not whether Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo can shake his reputation as Europe's Lebron James, a man who wows fans all season only to choke in big games. Nor is the story about whether defending champion Spain can defend the title without two of its biggest stars. It's also not about how Franck Ribery and the French squad can rebound from an embarrassing, soap opera-esque campaign in the 2010 World Cup.
Heck, the media aren't even paying that much attention to German coach Joachim Low's promise to break world soccer protocol by allowing his team to smoke, drink booze and have sex during the tournament. That would normally be prime tabloid fodder.
Nope, the story today is about racism, especially within the stadiums of Poland and Ukraine, which are jointly hosting the Euro 2012 tournament beginning Friday. The day before the competition began, the Dutch national team opted to train on the opposite side of its training ground at Stadion Miejski in Warsaw because of racist chants, Dutch captain Mark van Bommel said Thursday.
And while a recent BBC investigation showed several instances of bigotry and racism at club games there - some of them violent - Polish and Ukrainian officials are insisting their countries have been misrepresented.
"There is a problem with racism and anti-Semitism in Poland, but it is blown out of every possible proportion in this material," Marcin Bosacki, Polish Foreign Ministry spokesman, said of the BBC documentary. "We are hospitable and treat all people who come here as friends."
Ukrainian Ambassador to the UK Volodymyr Khandogiy also defended his country, saying, "Ukraine is very well known for its tolerance and it has a long history of living together with other nationalities. In our national football championship, roughly half of all the players are from Asian, African and Brazilian countries."
Regardless, many players and former players are speaking out, and English police issued a warning to fans after the Ukrainian neo-Nazi group Donetsk Company threatened to attack black and Asian English supporters during the tournament, Sky Sports News reported.
The families of Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, black English internationals who play for London's Arsenal, have said they will not attend the tournament because they fear becoming victims. Former English captain Sol Campbell, in the BBC documentary, warned his countrymen to stay out of the host countries.
"Stay at home. Watch it on TV. Don't even risk it because you could end up coming back in a coffin," he told a reporter.
This Saturday, Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner I'll Have Another is looking to win horse racing's first Triple Crown victory in 34 years at the Belmont Stakes. And for the first time in three races, oddsmakers say the horse is actually favored to win at odds of 4-5, according to the New York Racing Association.
I'll Have Another and jockey Mario Gutierrez have come from behind to earn close, dramatic finishes in the previous two races in this year's Triple Crown, surprising nearly everyone, according to the Daily Racing Form.
The horse was "lightly raced" and only competed in two prep races leading up to the Derby. He competed in the shadow of Bodemeister, who was predicted to win the Kentucky Derby.
Bodemeister also set a "sizzling pace" at Preakness that I'll Have Another surprisingly beat by digging in and surging ahead. But with Bodemeister not running in the Belmont, the Form says I'll Have Another is the best horse that will enter a starting gate on Saturday.
In fact, I'll Have Another's only disappointing appearance was at Saratoga for the Hopeful Stakes in September 2011. The track became a "quagmire" due to heavy rains and the horse suffered because of it, DRF reported.
While I'll Have Another isn't expected to beat 1973 Triple Crown winner Secretariat's world record time for a 1.5 mile race on dirt, a Belmont win could cement legend status for the horse.
"That's the measuring stick for a champion," Daily Racing Forum's Dan Illman said. FULL POST
Many of us went through a winter that seemed nonexistent. There were no major blizzards or numbing arctic outbreaks. And it looks as if spring continued much of the same weather pattern throughout the United States.
After reviewing the past several months, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said that May 2012 will end as the second warmest on record in the United States. It also said that the spring period of March through May will go down as the warmest on record since record keeping began in 1895.
The average temperature in May over the contiguous United States was 64.3 degrees, or 3.3 degrees above normal. For spring, the average was 57.1 degrees, 5.2 degree above normal. The previous record for warmest spring was set in 1910; this spring beat that year by 2 degrees.
If you look back over the last 12 months from June 2011 to May 2012, it is the warmest 12-month period of any 12 months on record, according to NOAA.
The warm temperatures were not tied to any one particular part of the country. In the contiguous United States, only Oregon and Washington had spring temperatures near normal.
Data starting on January 1 through the end of May show many cities are off to their warmest start since record keeping began at the location:
Chicago – Warmest in 54 years
New York City (Central Park) – Warmest in 137 years
New York City (JFK) – Warmest in 55 years
Philadelphia – Warmest in 72 years
Washington (Dulles) – Warmest in 50 years
The Florida A&M Board of Trustees has issued a vote of “no confidence” against FAMU president James Ammons.
The vote was 8-4.
“I hear you loudly and clearly," Ammons said after the vote. "I understand there are measures I have to take, as president of the university, to fix things. And I will fix them."
The vote followed a series of investigations into the university following concerns over the hazing death of a member of the band and drum major Robert Champion. The vote also related to financial audits that resulted from the hazing investigation.
Champion, 26, died last year because of "hemorrhagic shock due to soft tissue hemorrhage, due to blunt force trauma," the Orange County medical examiner said.
More than 2,000 pages of police interviews with witnesses and defendants who were aboard the bus on the day of Champion's death paint a picture of a darkened bus where three band members, including Champion, were hazed.
A small plane was forced to land in Chino, California, after a pilot violated airspace restrictions in place for President Barack Obama's visit, FAA spokesperson Allen Kenitzer told CNN.
Kenitzer had no further details about the incident.
The military also intercepted a private plane Thursday morning in the vicinity of Fullerton, California, Kenitzer said. The aircraft, a Mooney M20, landed at Chino at 6:04 a.m. PDT. The FAA is investigating.
The incidents on Thursday followed a similar issue on Wednesday when a fighter jet intercepted a single-engine airplane northwest of Los Angeles for breaching a temporary airspace restriction, according to a military news release.
The temporary restriction violated by the Cessna aircraft coincided with a campaign visit to the city by Obama, who was on a one-day fundraising swing through the state.
"After intercepting the aircraft, the F-16 followed it until it landed without incident, at approximately 4:58 p.m. PDT where the plane was met by local law enforcement," according to a statement issued by the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD).
The president spoke at a gala for the gay community in Los Angeles, on his third fundraising trip to the Golden State in the past month. Earlier in the day, he attended two campaign events in San Francisco.
NORAD's mission is to protect U.S. and Canadian airspace against possible threats and may require planes to change course or land.
Authorities removed a computer drive and two satchels, among other items, during the execution of a search warrant at the home of Pedro Hernandez, accused of killing 6-year-old Etan Patz in 1979, the attorney for Hernandez's wife said Thursday.
The search warrant was executed as part of the ongoing investigation into Etan's decades-old disappearance. Hernandez was arrested last month. Police said he confessed to strangling the boy and throwing his body away in a trash bag.
The search began Wednesday afternoon and wrapped up early Thursday at the couple's New Jersey house, said Robert Gottlieb, who represents Rosemary Hernandez.FULL STORY
Poland and Ukraine will host the European Championships for the first time, welcoming 14 other teams and football fans from across the continent.
Before the prestigious tournament begins Friday, and amid some concerns about racism in the sport, we wanted to help break down the second biggest soccer tournament for you.
Here's a look at Euro 2012 by the numbers:
16 – The number of teams participating in the monthlong event. Each squad is made up of 20 players. Check out an in-depth look at the squads here.
Two – The number of countries hosting games – Ukraine and Poland. It's the first time the tournament has been held in Eastern Europe.
Eight – The number of stadiums hosting the games.
Three – The number of times Germany has won the tournament. That’s more than any other nation. Spain and France are tied for second, with two wins apiece.
70,050 – The capacity of the Olympic National Sports Complex in Kiev, Ukraine, where the final will be held. It’s one of the world’s largest stadiums.
58,145 – The capacity of the Warsaw National Stadium, where the opening game will be held.
29 – The number of players of color on the squads. That’s less than 10% of the total 320 players representing their countries.
0 – The number of players of color on the host countries’ squads.
Three – The number of teams with six or more players of color on their teams. The Netherlands has six, France seven and England the most with eight.
18 – The number of countries sending police or representatives of public order agencies, according to the Polish Interior Ministry. The countries are Greece, Russia, Czech Republic, Spain, Italy, Ireland, Croatia, England, the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Portugal, Sweden, Slovenia, Hungary, Austria, Slovakia and Ukraine.
6,900 – The number of Polish police officers monitoring host cities during the tournament, according to the Polish Interior Ministry.
22,000 – The number of law-enforcement officers monitoring host cities in Ukraine, according to the country's information center.
More on Euro 2012:
The discovery of the graves of suspected vampires in Bulgaria may turn into a tourism gold mine, according to local news reports.
During excavations of a monastery in the city of Sozopol, Bulgaria's National Museum of History says it unearthed two skeletons that showed the deceased person had been stabbed through the heart with an iron rod.
"This was (the) customary way (in) Bulgarian medieval tradition to deal with people which were presumed to be vampires," the museum's website says.
People at the time of the burial of the skeletons, about 700 years ago, thought that stabbing the corpses multiple times with an iron rod through the heart would prevent the dead from rising and attacking the living, museum director Bozhidar Dimitrov said, according to a report from the Sofia News Agency.
Dimitrov said more than 100 such "vampire" burials have been discovered in Bulgaria over the years, according to the Sofia News Agency.
But headlines of the latest find have piqued interest in the U.S., Europe and Asia, the report said, and tour operators are fielding inquiries about what it called "vampire vacations."
Already, people were lining up at the excavation site at the monastery of St. Nicolas the Wonderworker, the Sofia News Agency reported.
Big lines for vampires could pump even more blood into the country's expanding tourism industry. Bulgaria led the European Union last year in the increase in hotel occupancy by foreigners, with numbers up almost 20% over the previous year.
No stats on how many of those folks slept with the lights on, however.
A unified lawsuit on behalf of more than 2,000 National Football League players has been filed against the league in federal court, alleging that the NFL failed to acknowledge and address neurological risks associated with the sport and then deliberately failed to tell players about the risks they faced, according to attorneys representing former players.
The complaint, filed in federal court in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, unites the more than 80 pending lawsuits filed against the NFL.
“I firmly believe the NFL could have and should have done more to protect Ray. That’s why I am seeking to hold the NFL accountable,” Mary Ann Easterling, widow of former Atlanta Falcons safety Ray Easterling, who committed suicide in April after suffering for years from dementia, said in a press release. “Having lived through Ray’s struggle, I desperately hope and pray others can be spared the pain and suffering we have endured – and still endure every day.”
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy acknowledged the filing, but added that there was nothing new to the claim other than that it merges them all in one place.
"Our legal team will review today's filing that is intended to consolidate plaintiffs' existing claims into one "master" complaint," he said. "The NFL has long made player safety a priority and continues to do so. Any allegation that the NFL sought to mislead players has no merit. It stands in contrast to the league's many actions to better protect players and advance the science and medical understanding of the management and treatment of concussions."
However, many NFL players have claimed they suffer from a variety of injuries because of concussions without really knowing the severity of how badly they could be hurt playing the game.
“The NFL must open its eyes to the consequences of its actions,” Kevin Turner, a former running back for the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles who has been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, said in a press release. “The NFL has the power not only to give former players the care they deserve, but also to ensure that future generations of football players do not suffer the way that many in my generation have.”
Lawyers representing the NFL players cited "dementia, depression, reduced cognitive ability, sleeplessness, early-onset Alzheimer’s, and a debilitating and latent disease known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy" as some of the specific injuries caused by head trauma in the NFL.
“Instead of protecting the health of its players, the NFL’s response to this epidemic of brain injuries was to engage in a campaign of deceit and deception, actively concealing the risks players faced from repetitive impacts,” Christopher Seeger and Sol Weiss, co-lead counsels for the former NFL players, said in a press release. “This case is about providing security and care to former NFL players who have suffered these devastating neurologic injuries, and making the game safer for generations to come.”
Read more about the NFL's concussion problem:
United Nations monitors who were trying to access the scene of "new massacres" in Syria's Hama province were shot at with small arms, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon told the U.N. General Assembly on Thursday morning.
Ban said he had just learned the information about the gunfire "a few minutes ago." He also called the reports of Wednesday's alleged Hama massacres "shocking and sickening."
Information about who shot at the monitors and when the shooting happened wasn't immediately available.
During his address to the U.N. General assembly, Ban also said that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government has lost "all legitimacy" amid reports of mounting violence.
Opposition activists accused forces loyal to al-Assad of killing 78 people in a tiny village in Hama province Wednesday.
Regime forces shelled Qubeir village before militias on foot used knives, guns and AK-47 rifles to kill residents, the opposition Local Coordination Committees of Syria said.
About 40 victims of the attack in Qubeir were buried in a mass grave Thursday, according to a youth activist whom CNN is not naming for safety reasons. Shabiha - or pro-government gangs - took other bodies to neighboring villages, the activist said. More than half of those killed were women and children, according to a local activist who evacuated bodies.
The Syrian government blamed a terrorist group for the massacre, saying it was timed to coincide with the U.N. meetings to make the regime look bad.
Maj. Gen. Robert Mood, head of the U.N. Supervision Mission in Syria, said observers heading to the village to verify reports of the killings had been blocked by soldiers and civilians. Residents are telling observers that they are at risk if they enter the village.
The observers have been monitoring adherence to Annan's six-point peace plan, which includes a cease-fire declared in April. But the effort has failed to halt the bloodshed in the nation.
International envoy Kofi Annan told the U.N. General Assembly on Thursday that his six-point peace plan for Syria is "not being implemented." He warned that more repression, abuse and even "all-out civil war" could occur if things don't change in Syria.
Two weeks ago, a massacre in Houla left more than 100 people dead, including women and children. Opposition activists blamed the deaths on government forces and allied militia, a claim that al-Assad denied.
CNN cannot independently confirm reports from within Syria because the government strictly limits access by foreign journalists.
Bahrain's ambassador to France has denied accusations of assault after the French Foreign Ministry confirmed that a formal complaint had been made against a foreign envoy.
The diplomat, Nasser Al-Belooshi "forcefully" denied allegations made by former employees, calling them "inaccurate and unfounded," according to the official Bahrain News Agency.
The ambassador "remains at the disposal of the French authorities to shed light on these false accusations," the news agency said Wednesday.
The denial came a day after French Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said a prosecutor in the city of Nanterre had opened an investigation against an ambassador. Valero did not name the envoy or say what country he came from.
International mediator Kofi Annan plans to brief the United Nations on Thursday as world powers seek to pile on pressure on the Syrian regime amid new reports of a massacre.
Annan, the U.N. and Arab League special envoy to Syria, will address separate meetings of the U.N. General Assembly and the Security Council in New York. The council comprises 15 countries, while the assembly is made up of 193 members of the United Nations.
Both meetings will focus on the escalating crisis in Syria after reports of massacres within weeks of each other.FULL STORY
The distraught family of a university student allegedly killed and dismembered by a Canadian porn actor have journeyed from their village in China to Montreal, where the grisly act took place.
The family of Jun Lin, 33, met with investigators Wednesday, Montreal police told CNN affiliate CTV.
Yan Shi, the head of the Chinese student association at Concordia University, where Lin was studying, told CTV that Lin's mother was extremely emotional and could not get through her words without constant tears.
"We come to take you home now," she said.
In the grisliest Montreal crime in years, police believe porn actor Luka Rocco Magnotta killed and dismembered Lin and posted a 10-minute video of it online. Montreal police Cmdr. Ian Lafreniere said the video shows Magnotta engaged in sexual acts involving body parts and also included evidence of cannibalism.
Police believe Magnotta sent Lin's body parts by mail to Ottawa and Vancouver. Magnotta then fled Montreal for Europe.
Police arrested Magnotta in Berlin on Monday after he was spotted in an Internet cafe. He will be extradited to Canada to face first-degree murder charges.
Suspect and victim knew each other, though has not defined the nature of their relationship.FULL STORY
The race to the presidency now turns toward the general election in November. CNN.com Live is your home for all the latest news and views from the campaign trail.
Today's programming highlights...
10:00 am ET - TSA customer service hearing –Some critics say the TSA's customer service record leaves much to be desired. TSA chief John Pistole testifies on how the agency is working to fix that.