Underprivileged Student Graduates from Prestigious University

Category: Human Interest


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. lead a dog’s life / lid ə dɔgs laɪf / (idiom) – to have a life full of struggles and problems

    Born to a poor family, she had led a dog’s life.

  2. setback / ˈsɛtˌbæk / (n) – a problem that stops a person from progressing

    Despite all the setbacks that she encountered, she continued her college education.

  3. back on (one’s) feet / bæk ɒn fit / (idiom) – to recover from a negative situation

    After my divorce, I was able to get back on my feet with the help of my friends and family.

  4. remarkable / rɪˈmɑr kə bəl / (adj) – worthy of praise and admiration

    Getting into the prestigious university is a remarkable achievement.

  5. perseverance / ˌpɜr səˈvɪər əns / (n) – the determination to achieve something

    She reached her dreams through her hard work and perseverance.


Read the text below.

A former homeless student has graduated from a prestigious university in Washington, D.C., United States.

Rashema Melson, a 23-year-old student who used to live in gang-filled streets and homeless shelters, has recently obtained a degree in justice and peace after attending Georgetown University. Melson had received a full college scholarship to Georgetown after she graduated as the valedictorian of her class in Anacostia High School.

Before and during her time in college, Melson led a dog’s life. She lost her father at an early age. She and her family also lost their home and experienced living in public housing, homeless shelters, and even an abandoned home at one point.

When Melson entered Georgetown, the pressure to get a degree got into her. Her then-boyfriend proposed to her; and looking back, she said that marrying him became her way of running away from the pressure. She quit school and moved away with her husband. Sadly, the marriage was short-lived and ended after a year.

Despite what happened, Melson overcame the setbacks and was able to get back on her feet and continue her studies back in Georgetown.

According to statistics, only 9% of young people from poor families graduate with a college degree, making Melson’s university graduation remarkable. Family and friends praised Melson for her achievement. They also expressed admiration for her perseverance to overcome all the challenges that stood in her way.

A professor from Georgetown said that Melson is an inspiration as she stayed true to herself by keeping her connections at Georgetown University and outside school.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Do you agree that Melson’s graduation from college is a remarkable achievement? Why or why not?
• If you were Melson, would you continue your education despite the things you have been through? Discuss.

Discussion B

• Do you think success stories are enough to give hope to people who are struggling? Discuss.
• What else do you think can inspire people who are struggling? Discuss.