What happens when the odds aren’t in your favor? You pull a Toni Morgan.
Earlier this year, you probably noticed a few news headlines with the words “homeless to Harvard”. They were talking about Toni! Her story is an incredible one.
The once homeless high school dropout beat the odds by getting into one of the most prestigious schools ever. Harvard University, of course. This was a dream come true, but before she could fully dive into celebration mode, there was one major concern to deal with. Tuition.
Toni couldn’t cover the price tag for an Ivy League education on her own. So, she looked to the internet and launched a crowdfunding campaign with the hopes that some kind strangers would help her out. Amazingly, the internet rallied around her in full force. She raised $50,000 in just one night. Talk about a ME to WE moment!
Toni totally flipped the stereotypes that society had for her and got to see the power of community firsthand. We were beyond thrilled to have her join us at WE Day Toronto this year, and got chatting backstage.
Thanks for being here Toni. What excites you about WE Day?
To me, WE Day is an activist rock concert and I’ve never been to one. I think often social justice is seen as a fringe activity and this puts activism and social justice at centre stage and turns it into a celebration. That’s what’s exciting.
You have such an inspiring story. Can you describe some of the experiences that shaped the person you are today?
I think the way that [homelessness] has shaped me just reminds me that these things exist – so having experienced it personally, if there was any question of whether systemic oppression exists… my experience confirms that it’s real. Being poor and homeless pointed exactly to what the structural issues were within our systems.
As someone who was once told she’d never have a university degree. What’s your advice for someone who might be feeling discouraged?
Activists and people who speak out against the status quo are always going to be pushed to the edges and one of the ways you do that is to tell them that their voice isn’t being heard. People that tell you no should be your motivation that you’re on the right track. Stick to your voice. Stick with your message. So, if you are facing someone who’s telling you that you aren’t capable of something that probably means you are onto something. Recognize that not everybody’s going to understand you.
You were able to see an amazing example of a community together with your crowdfunding campaign. What was that like?!
It was incredibly moving. First of all, social media is crazy. You just don’t realize how big the world is until something like that happens. It’s such a powerful statement for people to say in unison, I don’t know this girl or maybe I do, but she has a story that universally relates to all of us and we’re going to put our foot down and we’re going to do that by making sure she gets the education that she’s been fighting for. You just think you’re the only person that thinks that until that happens.
Thanks Toni! If you want to make a difference in your community like Toni, check out WE365 to start taking action. Stay tuned for more backstage convos!
See the power and excitement of WE Day on MTV Canada December 7 at 9 pm.