This Teen Became Homeless After Gang Members Torched His House—Now He's Attending Harvard

David Boone

Courtesy of Minds Matter of Cleveland

This profile is part of our series on the most impressive kids graduating from high school this year. You can see the full list here.David Boone overcame difficult obstacles–he found himself homeless after gang members burned down his home for not joining their gang–to become a remarkable scholar who will attend Harvard.

“Being homeless was a very challenging time in my life, but was probably the most productive as well,” Boone wrote to us in an email. “During this time I was able to make some observations about myself, learn some life lessons, strengthen my faith and grow into adulthood.”

Boone recounted the first night he spent outside, when none of his friends or family members answered his phone calls while looking for a place to stay. He said that he felt afraid and alone, but it was his faith in God that got him through that difficult night–which was not his last night outside.

During this time, he devoted himself to his studies at MC2STEM High School in Cleveland, Ohio.

“I saw that [studying] as the way out,” he told Fox 8 News. “I saw going to any college as the way to escape, and a way to secure that these types of things don’t continue to happen to my family.”

He spent hours studying in school and in an extracurricular program to which he credits much of his success: Minds Matter, whose mission is to help high-achieving high school students from low income families achieve college and academic success.

“Minds Matter has been excellent,” Boone said. “I mean this with all the sincerity possible; I would not be going to Harvard if it weren’t for MM. Minds Matter for me has fostered an environment that was not only comfortable, but productive in the sense that when I did something well, they didn’t spend an eternity celebrating it because the people there truly believed that I could do better. I gained so much confidence in my academic capabilities. MM helped me to keep strong when I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders and my mentors in particular, gave me something to believe in.”

With the help of his teachers at school, his mentors at Minds Matter and his family members, David worked diligently and was accepted to Harvard University. He received a full scholarship to college from the Gates Millennium Scholarship and the Ron Brown Scholarship. He admits that when he found out that he received the scholarships he did an “embarrassing dance” because he was so elated.

Boone plans to major in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Harvard. He said that he is looking forward to the challenge that studying at Harvard will present.

“I plan to study engineering in college because engineering is a field where there is always a new challenge  and there is no ultimate accomplishment because you are trained to constantly improve,” Boone said. “I believe that engineers are the key to solving the world’s most pressing issues, both technological and social. The way that engineers think leaves the door open to immeasurable possibilities and that is very important to the progression of society.”

“I truly believe that I can change the world and I will not consider myself a success until I do,” Boone added.

Watch a video interview with Boone from Fox 8 News:

Now meet the most impressive kids graduating from high school this year >

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.