Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

An Ivy League Degree in Hand, Eboni Boykin Tackles the Future

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

An Ivy League Degree in Hand, Eboni Boykin Tackles the Future

Article excerpt

It was muggy day in Mississippi, just south of Memphis, as spring storms gave way. Eboni Boykin, inside her grandparents' living room, was regrouping after moving out of her dorm room in New York. For once in her life, she was no longer thinking about college.

It's behind her now, just like Normandy High School, and the hours she'd spent working and studying to prepare for this point of her life. She's just bought a used car with cash she's saved. Now she's looking for a job.

In 2012, Boykin's story captivated St. Louisans as she overcame obstacles of poverty and made an ascent to the Ivy League from Normandy High, where the dropout rate is in the double digits. She spent her childhood bouncing from school to school as her family moved in and out of homeless shelters, eventually landing in a one- story home in Pagedale.

Her destination was Columbia University one of the eight Ivy League schools for which she had aimed. She got there on full scholarship.

Now Boykin is 22.

Her Facebook profile shows her in a pale blue cap and gown, smiling as she joined about 8,000 graduating students on May 17. They walked out of Columbia's student center into the chilly morning. Her mother, Lekista Flurry, was among the thousands in the noisy crowd, visiting her daughter for the first time since she'd left for college.

"I thought it would be anticlimactic," Boykin said. "I was so ready to go at the end. I was like, 'This place has put me through the wringer. I can't take one more class.' "

The sense of accomplishment she felt was unexpected. When she graduated from Normandy High, the ceremony felt like another exercise to her, just part of a process.

But this graduation was different.

It marked the end of a journey that Boykin began by herself and endured largely alone, one that was scary at times and unexpectedly rewarding.

During the past four years, she's reached inside herself again and again to overcome the burden she felt as a first-generation college student growing up in poverty. …

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