Growing up, Tierra Jackson struggled through the Chicago school system.
As a teenager, she enrolled in a high school where John Horan was the dean.
John invited Tierra, who is now 23, back to the school to sit down for StoryCorps.
Click here for the transcript.
John Horan (JH): And most people didn't know this, and we kept yelling at you for being late.
TJ: I was embarrassed. I was fourteen, and I was homeless. I didn't want people to look at me like, Oh you know, she needs charity. We have to take care of her. But there were all these things that I needed for my classes -- and I was just like, We don't have money for this stuff.
I went to my aunt, and I remember she sent me to school with notes that explained the situation. I think the first teacher I gave the note to, came to school with this bag of things for me. And, I didn't know how to accept it. But after that, she never treated me differently, and I think that's one of the things I appreciated. I knew that I'm intelligent, you know. I have a brain with thoughts that matter.
JH: You're working your way through college with the extra burden of caring for your brother and caring for your mom…
TJ: I work part time for a financial management company. I go to school, and I help my brother with his homework. I try to do my homework. I don't really go out much. You know, I was so tired today, I stayed up all night studying. I wanted to go to bed so bad, but I can't because I have to get A's. I have to do well in school. It's the only thing I have that can get me out. There's so many people who could, you know, be the next Bill Gates and change the world. But because they're poor or they're living in poverty, they're instantly written off because no one thinks they'll make it. I just want to make it.