When Shannon Satonori Lytle was in high school, people told him he’d never make it into a top college. He had three younger siblings to take care of, worked 150 hours just to afford a laptop, and didn’t have WiFi in his house. He flipped McDonald’s burgers after school and studied until the early morning. But now, it’s all paid off: On Thursday, he became the first member of his family to graduate from college – and from Harvard, no less.
He told his inspiring story in a Facebook post that’s gotten over 180,000 shares. “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,'” he wrote. “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.”
In another Facebook post, he recounted beginning his freshman year at Harvard with only $120. He ended up enrolling in computer courses just because they didn’t require as many textbooks, which made them easier to afford. Now, he has a computer science degree.
We’re so incredibly happy for Shannon and all the 2017 college grads who are seeing their hard work come to fruition. But he told Teen Vogue it wasn’t just his own work that produced his success – his family, friends, and teachers also played a huge role.
Most of all, Shannon wants others growing up without a lot of money to know their own worth. “I often felt inferior because of my socioeconomic status,” he told Teen Vogue. No matter what your personal obstacle is, please don’t feel this way if you can help it. Raise your head, roll up your sleeves, and work hard knowing that every person is valuable and deserves a chance to become the person they want to be.”