Overheard on CNN.com: Teen janitor's story 'like Good Will Hunting,' readers say
Dawn Loggins scrubs floors and cleans bathrooms at her school in addition to going to class.
June 7th, 2012
07:06 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Teen janitor's story 'like Good Will Hunting,' readers say

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.

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

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.

minellimu: "This moving story demonstrates Newt's point. Dawn worked hard and took nothing for granted. Also the government was kept out of Dawn's business because it would have messed up her plans. I hope this becomes a lesson to all that it takes a community/village to help; if only we could all come together and build stronger communities. The reason why governments step in is because community spirit is disappearing, especially in larger cities."

SouthernBlue: "Depending on 'community spirit' to see everyone through every crisis is naive. There's just too much want in the world, too much need in the world, to expect people to pony up out of the kindness of their hearts."

dfizzo: "The government was kept out of her life? She went to a PUBLIC school and received substantial help from GOVERNMENT employees (and likely union members)."

This reader shared a success story.

ocbanker73: "God bless her! She's not the typical 'entitled' teenager in America! I didn't attend Harvard but I grew up in a mobile home in the High Desert (CA). I worked full time as a delivery truck driver from 6am-2pm Mon -Sat and paid for my college education. It was so hard and I wanted to give up. If you work hard and dedicate yourself, you can make it. Now I have a hottie wife, 300k+ in cash, 975k home, and a 911 Porsche. This is still the greatest country in the world and with hard work and dedication, you can be a success!"

For some, Loggins' experiences give a perspective on hard work.

kelbel34: "No person, after reading this, can complain that their life is too hard to go to college. As a teacher, I see kids and parents make excuses each day, this young woman made no excuses and worked her tail off. Great story that I will put up in my classroom."

A few readers said they think this is an unusual case of someone who was fortunate to have a lot of assistance.

Valentijn: " She is extraordinary, but she also had a lot of assistance and guidance at an important time. If she'd had to go to a new school, or had to drop out to support herself, there would probably be a very different outcome. A lot of bright kids don't get that support when they need it, so I don't think it's fair to blame them for that failure."

Loggins got applause from this reader.

cloud13: "Good for her! Too many girls in the same position would have gotten pregnant so they can bring their baby to a welfare office and say "I have a baby! Where's my housing, welfare, food stamps ..."

Another reader talked about the need for support from a community. Can a person pull themselves up by their bootstraps?

hedgehog: "Wow ... finally an inspirational story. And here are some lovely keywords for the USA: together, help, lift, work, success. Note what this story DOES NOT reference: politicians, greed, obfuscation, etc. If you don't get it, she is the story of the USA. Working hard by oneself does not accomplish anything. You need a group and support to progress."

We heard from some commenters who thought Americans have different attitudes toward education and work.

RT80: "I came to the U.S. about eight years ago, and something that made an impression on me is this highschool close to my office. I see those kids, especially girls, hanging around at lunch places, talking abt boyfriends and every unnecessary thing in the world ... that just makes me wonder how my highschool days were in India and then I thought to myself that there is no way these kids can compete with the kids in India (or Asia in general). A story like this gives some hope that I may be wrong to assume those kids represent the rest of what the USA is."

ES71: "I am very happy for her. On the other hand we cleaned our school for free after classes and also painted it and maintained the flower beds since (being) 10 years old (4th grade). Also, several of my classmates worked as janitors/cleaners at varios places like movies, theaters, etc., to make money since (they were) 14. That was in the USSR, where I grew up. The fact that working as a janitor is somehow seen as a hardship in the US is quite telling."

Some readers suspected Harvard wasn't breaking any ground with this move.

Max: "Yeah! The uber-rich Harvard made a token move by accepting this student of modest means, so that thousands of privileged trust fund babies can continue on with their lives! All is well with the world again!"

This person wasn't terribly impressed with Harvard.

CaliJoe777: "I work with plenty of havard grads ... no smarter then the rest of the people at my company. the MIT ones however or the IIT ones ... India Insitute of Technology for those not in the know...are wicked smart."

People must understand, opined some, that they can achieve things in life if they work hard. The debate got pretty typical.

phagagenda: "This wonderful lady has in one motion made herself a success and disproved the liberal lie that the '1%' is keeping us from succeeding. The only thing keeping people from succeeding is their unwillingness to do any work, even janitorial work like this young lady did. The free market works, you just have to work hard and get a little dirty sometimes but if you do then you will be successful, period."

clemjones: "I thought this couldn't happen in liberal America. I guess some things just cut right through liberalism."

Jennifer Martin: "She is to be commended for her own hard work ... we need more Americans like her. I would just point out that she also can go forward because the community rallied around her, paid for her clothes and meals, took care of her, etc. This is pretty much what the liberal approach is about ... it's just that liberals try to have government partner with the business/nonprofit community, to help thousands instead of just one. That said, there are certainly lazy goofs who abuse the system, and they unfortunately make the entire system look bad ..."

Many readers were touched.

cbelcher800: "This young lady is truly amazing. She should be an inspiration not just to other kids but to adults also. She made me think about the way I've been approaching some of my own issues and I'm a 42 year old man. I applaud her and pray that she will be able to realize the success that she appears to be headed for."

Jamie Breslow: "Well, this grown man just had a nice little cry. Girl is awesome."

Motivation, perhaps?

WonderingMo: "I plan on reading this to my kids later. Help them understand a true story about a kid that overcome adversity. And to get their butts in gear and grades up to all A's!"

trutxn: "You can use the comment section as an example of what happens when you don't do well in school."

Share your opinion in the comments area below and in the latest stories on CNN.com. Or sound off on video via CNN iReport.

Compiled by the CNN.com moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

Post by:
Filed under: Economy • Education • Overheard on CNN.com
soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. will g

    This is old information. This was listed as a news article a while back. However, it's heart warming to read. You go girl.

    June 7, 2012 at 7:09 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Portland tony

    Perhaps the author took a few liberties with the facts, but overall, it's a truely inspirational story. I wish this young woman a happy and prosperous life!

    June 7, 2012 at 8:28 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Joey Isotta-Fraschini ©™

    It's inspiring, and it's the kind of story I've heard before.
    The next time I hear somebody say, "he never had a chance," this is a story to add to the list of arguments that one can make his own chance.

    June 7, 2012 at 9:36 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Michelle Souther

    Bless this girls heart and all the teachers in her life that encouraged her! Wish we heard more stories like this :)

    June 7, 2012 at 10:02 pm | Report abuse |
  5. socially responsible network

    I love hearing stories like this.

    June 7, 2012 at 11:11 pm | Report abuse |
  6. saywhat

    A remarkable girl,Dawn Loggins. I'm sure she would inspire others. Wishing her luck & more success.

    June 8, 2012 at 9:47 am | Report abuse |
  7. or was she inspired first?

    May are the missing children down through the decades that turn out to be runaways from a dysfunctional family who stay 'ran away' and make a life for themselves.
    Big Monsters make little monsters save the little monster who had the wherewithall to leave home at 15.

    June 8, 2012 at 10:01 am | Report abuse |
  8. gerald finnegan

    Portland tony

    "Perhaps the author took a few liberties with the facts, but overall, it's a truely inspirational story. I wish this young woman a happy and prosperous life!"

    Where did that remark come from? You have evidence the writer is icing the cake? If not, why not take it as it is, a description of real events?

    June 9, 2012 at 12:09 pm | Report abuse |
  9. boinkgoesthedynamite

    "The idea of a community helping someone succeed, and not the government, was encouraging for many."

    Is not our democratically elected government our community's representative? The above sentence gives me a cognitive dissonance headache.

    June 12, 2012 at 8:06 am | Report abuse |