High school is supposed to be a time of learning to transition from childhood into adulthood. High school should be a journey of learning about oneself and mapping out plans for the future after high school graduation. It is a time for parents to learn to let go, and for high school students to become more responsible.
One high school student did not have the luxury of parents or a family to help steer him in the right direction. In fact, Liyjon Desilva was likely responsible and mature way before he even started high school. At the tender age of 5, reports KMOV, Desilva’s mom died, leaving him with no one to lean on, and a family who did not want to take over his care. Desilva was on his own.
ABC13 reports that he was passed around from family member to family member before finally being abandoned altogether. For three long years, he took care of himself, never letting anyone know that he was homeless, navigating high school without the parental guidance he should have had.
“I wanted clothes. I wanted to be able to live like a normal kid, you know. I wanted to eat like a normal kid. I slept at parks. I slept at pools. Those were cool. I don’t like to refer to it as bad or that it was terrible because I learned a lot. I learned a lot of survival skills. Life became a bit easier.”
Rather than throwing in the towel, Liyjon decided to take advantage of the opportunities he did have, and make something of himself. And so as high school rolled around, he responsibly attended classes at Lee High School in Houston, Texas.
“What else as I supposed to do? It was either that or be a low-life. I could have thrown everything away. I have a chance, why not keep going?”
The high school student had the choice to give up or keep going. He not only chose to keep going, but to create a positive outlook despite his homeless status.
“I love to sleep on parking lots because I could see the stars, the sky. There was one where I could see the horizon of the city. I had a broken heart. As it mends, it’s stronger now. I can trust people. I don’t have to look in everybody’s eyes cynically.”
— Angelica Adams (@AAdamsCIS) June 29, 2016
Lee High School staff became aware of Liyjon’s circumstances when a counselor informed the school he had been seen sleeping in a park. With the help of Jessica Smith, Desilva was placed in a home, and continued through high school to graduation. Smith shared her thoughts on the high school student’s personality.
“[He is] intense, driven, resilient, bright, funny and kind. There are tons of people out there who want to help, and kids out there who need it.”
Not only did Liyjon Desilva graduate high school, he graduated with honors and a full scholarship to college. What is his advice to others in difficult situations? Don’t give up.
“There are too many possibilities to say it’s over. If you’re looking at me, if you’re able to breathe, if you’re able to talk, there are too many possibilities to just waste. You have $1 million already. You just need to get to your bank account.”
— Carleton College (@CarletonCollege) June 23, 2016
Watch this high school graduate tell his inspiring story in his own words below.
In this age where all too many people suffer from the “entitlement mentality,” expecting everything to be handed to them, this young man worked hard to put himself through high school and graduate with honors as well as earn a full-ride college scholarship.
Kudos to Liyjon Desilva for overcoming homelessness, setting his sights on success, and fighting against all odds to gain it.
[Image via Shutterstock]