The Art of Strengths Coaching

M is for Liz Murray: From Homelessness To Harvard

Liz grew up in the Bronx with parents who were addicts. She was surrounded by challenges, but she always had dreams.

The video above provides a short extract from a speech she gave at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana. Here are some excerpts from the article. You can find it at:

“It’s not about Harvard, it’s not about a prestigious school,” says Liz Murray of her incredible and uplifting life story, which she shared with an audience at DePauw University tonight.

“It’s not about that. It’s about learning, about educating yourself and gathering enough knowledge to find your way through any little crack or crevice you possibly can so you can move up and escape from that trap you were born into.”

Murray detailed how she was born to drug-addicted parents, and how as a child, living in squalor, her parents and everyone she knew was living month-to-month on government checks.

Despite the tumultous environment in which she was raised, Murray says she has always loved her parents. Her life, already in disarray, unraveled quickly when her mother was diagnosed with HIV.

Her mother moved out, her father went to a homeless shelter, and Murray, then a young teen, was sent to a group home.

Her unpleasant experiences there led her to run away and she lived on the streets of New York City, eating out of dumpsters and sleeping at friends’ houses or on subway trains, but in her own words, “going nowhere.” The year Murray turned 16, her mother died, and her view of life changed.

“I got the sense that my life was in my own hands,” she told her DePauw audience.

Liz describes her subsequent journey in her book Breaking Night. It was also made into a film called Homeless To Harvard: The Liz Murray Story.


The article continues:

Murray’s ultimate goal is to create a coaching and seminar company that will work with groups, perhaps specializing in inner-city schools.

“Instead of just speaking about my life, I want that to be a footnote, and I want to offer strategies to people.”

Liz has moved on to focusing on how to provide opportunities for young people. Here is a longer video in which she talks about the power of possibilities.

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