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Student Who Flipped Burgers and Scrubbed Toilets Just Graduated From Harvard

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The costs of college have risen exponentially in the last few decades. It was not uncommon for students to work entry-level jobs while they were attending classes in order to cover tuition and living expenses. That is almost unheard of today, but one recent Harvard graduate is sharing his story of perseverance.

Shannon Satonori Lytle didn’t come from money. Kids at his high school aren’t heavily recruited for Ivy League schools. The blue-collar neighborhood in Ohio where Lytle grew us isn’t known for producing academics in the traditional sense.

Yet he was determined to break that cycle. Simply getting into Harvard was the first hurdle. There would be many more, but that one was the highest. And now, looking back, Lytle has penned a simple message that is going viral.

“In high school, I flipped burgers at McDonald’s so I could afford the privilege of taking the SAT. I fed and cared for my three baby siblings until they went to sleep and stayed up until 4am to do my homework. I walked home through a dangerous part of the city after extracurriculars because I couldn’t afford a car. I stuck my laptop out of my window at night to steal my neighbor’s wifi and finish my schoolwork.”

“I was scoffed at and told, “from this part of Ohio, only the children of doctors and lawyers get to go to Ivy League Schools.” In college, I panicked when my laptop broke because I had worked 150 minimum wage hours to buy it. I scrubbed toilets, shelved books, and sold clothing so I could chase my dreams and travel the world. Throughout my life, I have maneuvered and begged for every kind of subsidy and coupon. I’m the son of a warehouse worker and an immigrant; a first generation student.”

“Today, I graduated from Harvard.”

What Lytle’s message seems to highlight is the triumph he’s feeling at overcoming the adversity of poverty. There’s more to the story, though. Our nation has to address the rising cost of college education. Student loans are not the answer. We no longer have the ability to assure our children that they can make it through college and pay for it themselves, at least not straight out of high school.

So what’s the answer? Perhaps Lytle can come up with a good solution.