Paving The Road To Higher Ed For Students Hit By Homelessness

At age 18, Suffolk University sophomore Marc-Daniel Paul seems destined for success. A Brockton High graduate who experienced homelessness as a teen, Paul was chosen as a Bank of America Student Leader and published his first book, Breathing Ink: The Heart of Poetry, during his senior year in high school. As an intern in the office of state Sen. Mark C. Montigny (D-New Bedford) this summer, Paul wrote an amendment to the Massachusetts State Budget which will save college students with MassHealth insurance coverage thousands of dollars by allowing them to remain on their health insurance and not be required to purchase their school’s health insurance. The bill was signed by Gov. Deval Patrick in July.

But beneath the outward signs of Paul’s success is a dramatic example of how one determined young person can overcome the challenges of homelessness and fulfill his dream of a postsecondary education, despite the odds against him. It is a story heard infrequently among the organizations familiar with the circumstances of homeless and unaccompanied youth

With higher education offering a potential avenue out of a bleak alternative, SOWMA has devoted countless hours to increasing the educational opportunities for young people impacted by homelessness, The High School Plus program works with both
students who are currently homeless as well as those who moved from shelter to housing. SOWMA first meets a student when he or she is experiencing homelessness. Once part of the SOWMA family, the student can continue to receive services
for as long as he or she needs support.

For Marc-Daniel Paul, High School Plus created the foundation for the future he dreams of having. “I never would have had the political exposure I had in high school with the Bank of America Student Leader program without School on Wheels,” he said. “They helped me find the program, assisted with my essay, and gave me a clearer vision of what I wanted to do. They’ve had a tremendous impact on helping me get on the path I am on today.”