Homelessness: A Student's Perspective

An Ivy League university is the last place you would expect to meet someone who has experienced homelessness. As Carlos learned recently, it's not so unusual.

Carlos Romero is a sophomore in college and a member of our Community Advisory Board. Just a few years ago, Carlos and his family were homeless. Today, he is studying to be an aerospace engineer. Read about his experience below.

Homeless: having no home or permanent place of residence. For what seemed like an eternity, I saw myself homeless, sleeping in the living room of my mother’s friend’s apartment with cockroaches and mice crawling around. After that I went to live in my godbrothers’ living room, thankfully free of pests. While living with them, I started school, wearing a light windbreaker from Florida in 30 degree weather. I was devastated for various reasons: my mother was crying every night because she could not find a job, I had no stable place to live, and there was barely any money to eat. In mid-October, 2012, FamilyAid Boston took my family under their wing until we finally received government hosing in April 2014.

Many people have the impression that being homeless means you have no hope of being successful, since one of the keys to life is having shelter. However, I am studying at an Ivy League institution with a full scholarship due to my efforts at school. My story, surprisingly, is not unique. While I was in a diversity workshop as a residential counselor of incoming low-income, first generation students, the leader posed questions and students would stand if they fell within the category as everyone else cheered to support them. “Please stand if you have ever experienced homelessness”, asked the seminar leader. More than 25% of the students stood up. It was astonishing to see that so many students had been in such a position and still got to one of the best schools in the country. 

The moral of the story is that I am not alone. There are countless students who go through homelessness but still become just as successful, if not more so, than people who never had to face such adversity. Just because the media paints homeless individuals as scum doesn’t mean that there isn’t hope for us. It should make us strive to work harder to achieve greatness, but we cannot do it alone. Supporting organizations like FamilyAid Boston allow more of us to get on our feet again and begin the road to success.

- Carlos Romero

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