It took three days for Toni Morgan to read the email, but when she finally did, she couldn’t believe it was real.
Emblazoned with a Harvard University logo was a congratulatory note accepting the 32-year-old, non-profit programming director to the school’s prestigious masters of education program next fall.
The letter brought her to tears. It meant she had come a long way from her days as a teenager who bounced in and out of shelters after leaving home amidst instability. Back then, she took on odd jobs and unsteady work to stay afloat, but eventually, dropped out of high school with a shoddy attendance record and poor grades.
I had been kicked out a couple of times, but I decided not to go back because I was embarrassed to admit that I had no place to live,” Morgan recalled. “The last time I was kicked out my vice principal turned to me and said that I would never have a university degree.”
That was enough to set Morgan on a path to beat the odds. She found shelter at the Young Women’s Christian Association and started cobbling together cash through telemarketing work for a university education.
Eventually, she saved enough to apply to Ryerson University where she earned a Bachelor of Arts for equity and diversity studies.
“I just wanted to get that undergrad degree that the principal said I couldn’t get,” she told the Star, noting that it took her almost 10 years to do so because she was “balancing life and a career.”
Meanwhile, Morgan nabbed gigs at the City of Toronto’s youth justice program, Toronto Community Housing and the Jane and Finch Community Centre. She also began teaching at Centennial College.