When Liz Murray was born, her father was in prison for selling drugs and her mother had vowed to turn over a new leaf. But when Liz was three, her dad was released and her mother began using drugs again. Liz and her older sister became accustomed to the display of cocaine paraphernalia on the kitchen table; to the anticipation of the first of each month, when her parents would use their welfare check to splurge on drugs; and to an endless parade of users in their small Bronx apartment. By middle school Liz was skipping classes daily, and at one point was put into a girls’ home for being truant. Kicked out of her mother’s home at age fifteen, she learned to scrape by, eating garbage and riding subways all night to have a warm place to sleep. When Liz was sixteen, her mother died of AIDS, and Liz decided to take control of her own destiny and finish high school. Liz reenrolled, graduated, and went on to Harvard, where she is now attending graduate school. In 2003 her life story was made into a Lifetime movie—Homeless to Harvard. Today, Liz gives motivational speeches all over the country, inspiring many with her story of perseverance and will to not only survive, but thrive.
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